By Adewale Adeyanju (INN), Lagos
Advocacy for Women With Disabilities Initiative (AWWDI) has called on Government and stakeholders to make access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for Women and Girls With Disabilities, a priority.
This call was made by the National Co-ordinator of the group at a 3-day capacity building training for Organizations of Persons with Disabilities in its South West zone. The training held at Skyrocks Suites & Hotel, Ikeja-Lagos on Tuesday 28 March, 2023, with support from Hivos, Welead and EVA.
AWWDI National Co-ordinator, Ms. Bilikisu Yakubu while presenting baseline survey and data on SRHR said “Women and girls with disabilities are denied access to basic health care services including sexual and reproductive health rights owing to stigma and discrimination they face daily. This is unacceptable. It is a violation of their fundamental human rights. They have the same rights to health care services as everyone else”.
Speaking further, Yakubu maintained that “access to sexual and reproductive health rights is crucial for women and girls with disabilities.
According to her, “It allows them make informed choices about their bodies, their sexual and reproductive health. This includes access to information about contraception, family planning, safe abortion services, access to care for sexually transmitted infections, cervical cancer screening, and maternal health care.”
The national coordinator also noted that, “many women and girls with disabilities face significant barriers to accessing these essential services.
These include physical barriers, such as inaccessible health care facilities or equipment, or attitudinal barriers such as health care providers who are not trained to work with People with Disabilities. According to Yakubu, these barriers can lead to serious health consequences”.
Yakubu further suggested that it is crucial for stakeholders to work towards eliminating these barriers and ensure that women and girls with disabilities have access to the same health care services as everyone else.
She listed some practical steps for achieving this to include: ensuring that health care facilities are accessible and health care providers are given adequate training to work with People with Disabilities.
It also means advocating for policies and programs that promote the sexual and reproductive health rights of women and girls with disabilities”.
The AWWDI National coordinator reminded her women with disabilities that: “sexual and reproductive health rights are human rights and therefore critical for ensuring health and well-being of women and girls with disabilities.
She reiterates that by working together, we can ensure these rights are respected and all individuals have access to the care they need to live healthy, fulfilling lives”.
Highpoint of the event was the presentation of the survey report by the consultant, Mr. Olumide Olaniyan, who was represented by Mr. Jide Ojo, a development consultant based in Abuja. He gave an overview of the report, the report focused on sexual and reproductive health rights for women and girls with Disabilities in Lagos, Edo and FCT.
Over 30 women with disabilities made up of the Deaf, persons with Albinism, the short persons and those with physical and intellectual disabilities were present at the presentation of the survey report. One consensus among participants is that the presentation exposes them to what can be done to improve their sexual and reproductive health rights as well as outlook on life in general.