The Network of Women with Disabilities (NWD) has advocated increased access to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) services for Women and Girls with Disabilities.
The group is also making concurrent efforts to streamline collection of data on Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), SGBV and HP in the FCT and five other spotlight initiative states, Cross Rivers, Ebonyi, Adamawa, Sokoto, Lagos.
The Network disclosed this while commemorating the International Women’s Day. It also revealed that the advocacy program which had over 30 women with disabilities in attendance was supported by EU and UN in partnership with UN-Women. The global theme for this year is “Digitall Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality” and NWD theme, “Digital Data Inclusion Strategies for Women and Girls with Disabilities”.
According to the group, the objective of the project is to strengthen capacity of key stakeholders and institutions through advocacy and training on SGBV, to support friendly services for women/girls with disabilities in the FCT.
A facilitator, Dorothy Nzemaje, said the importance of data collection cannot be overemphasized – adding that, it is important for us to rethink the need for data collection and its impact.
She said: “the only Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in FCT is situated in Bwari Area Council. Those from other area councils like Kuje, Gwagwalada, Abaji, Kwali and AMAC may not find it easy to access the facility, especially women with disabilities as the distance will discourage many.
Nzemaje further noted that during the lock down of 2020, a lot of organizations distributed food, without giving priority to the need of women, e.g. sanitary pads. Most hospitals focused on covid-19 to the detriment of women and girls suffering SGBV.
She said: “we need to think of other dimensions to this problem – for example, needs/services of Persons with Disabilities should be considered before decisions are taken.”
Speaking further, she said: “digital solution will help us address the issues well. If people do not know the location of SARC and how to access the service, then we still have a long way to go”. She added that the SARC is supposed to be for everybody so if some people cannot access it then something needs to be done.
The NWD reiterated the need for awareness session on addressing the data collection and utilization gap which exists. It also emphasized more SARCs for better inclusion of women and girls with disabilities as an important step in raising awareness about the issues faced by women with disabilities.
The session rounded up by highlighting the need for more research on the experiences of women and girls with disabilities in accessing SARCs and the importance of creating accessible and inclusive SARCs, situation rooms and referral pathways that meet the needs of Women and Girls with Disabilities.