By Chukwunyere Nwosu, Abuja
The Advocacy for Women with Disability Initiative (AWWDI) has conducted a training program for stakeholders from the North Central Zone as champions on sexual and reproductive health rights of women and girls with disabilities.
AWWDI’s National Publicity Secretary, Ms. Roseline Migbole, explains that inclusion of Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) is a necessity but unfortunately many women and girls with disability face significant barriers to accessing these essential services, which includes physical barriers such as inaccessible healthcare facilities – hospitals not having ramps for PWDs who are physically challenged, communication barrier where for instance there is no sign language interpreter in a medical facilities, a hearing impaired woman or girl cannot communicate with a doctor; or attitudinal barriers such as healthcare providers who are not trained to work with Persons with Disabilities, not giving them proper attention. These barriers can lead to serious health consequences, such as unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortion and increased rate of sexually transmitted infections.
According to Ms. Migbole, the AWWDI’s stakeholders’ engagement on advocacy for inclusive sexual and reproductive health rights of women and girls with disabilities got support from We Lead and Hivos, in three geopolitical zones of Nigeria. Lagos in the South West, Edo in South South and Abuja in North Central.
Ms. Migbole noted that women and girls with disabilities have the same fundamental human rights as persons without disabilities, reiterating that sexual reproductive health rights are their rights.
She said the mandate of her organization is to advocate for the rights of women and girls with disabilities for their inclusion in all national policy programs and activities, where sexual and reproductive health rights is a major concern.
As a national organization with community self-support across the country, AWWDI is in touch with grassroots that understand the pains of women and girls with disabilities as regards sexual reproductive health and rights.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which became part of international law, stipulates that governments should guarantee access to sexual reproductive health to people with disabilities.
Women and girls with disabilities are often denied access to basic healthcare and services, including sexual and reproductive healthcare, due to the stigma and discrimination which is unacceptable as it is a violation of their human rights. They have the same rights to healthcare, including sexual reproductive healthcare as others have.
Sexual and reproductive healthcare is crucial and critical for ensuring the well-being of women and girls with disabilities, as it allows them to make informed choices about their bodies. This includes information about contraception and treating of sexually transmitted infections, access to prenatal and postnatal care and also safe delivery.
Ms. Migbole said “the purpose of the training is to take women and girls with disabilities seriously, to carry out activities that lead to the advancement of women and girls with disabilities who are marginalized.”
AWWDI urged the media to use their platforms to advocate for the rights of women and girls with disabilities, it also tasked government to promote sexual and reproductive health inclusion, train medical service providers like doctors, nurses and gender counselors on how to attend to persons with disabilities, make SRHR a subject of discussion on radio and TV platforms, and lend voices to women and girls with disabilities on the issues of sexual reproductive health.
The workshop was attended by representatives from The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Legal Aid Council, The National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD) and women from different clusters of disabilities.