By Blessing Bature-Akpakpan,
As the world marks this year International Women’s Day (IWD), the Disability Rights Advocacy Centre (DRAC) has advocated sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs for Persons living with disabilities as the same as other people in the society.
The Child Protection and Safe-guiding Officer, Disability Rights Advocacy Centre, Moyo Balogun Samuel said this during the knowledge sharing FORUM on SRHR of women and girls with disability that disability need the minimum package of reproductive health services available to everyone else, but their special circumstances create barriers to access, such as communication barriers, ignorance of service providers, societal attitude, inadequate capacity of service providers to manage clients with disabilities.
Samuel said, “Women and girls with disabilities (WGWDS) are particularly affected, because generally, they are poor, live in remote rural areas without any economic power and experience multiple forms of discrimination, first as women then as WGWDS. They have often been denied the right to establish relationships and to decide whether, when, and with whom to have a family. Many have been subjected to forced abortions or forced marriages. They are more likely to experience physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and other forms of gender-based violence. They are more likely to become infected with HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIS).
“As you know, DRAC has been active at championing efforts aimed at bringing awareness to the varying need of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) of Women and Girls with Disabilities. We are currently implementing the “Making it work” Project with support from Voice Nigeria, aimed at improving access to SRHR services for Women and Girls with Disabilities”.
He said, the project has built the capacity of women and girls with disabilities, OPDS, service providers, innovators and SRH networks to take the lead in advocating for the implementation of the policy through the provision of appropriate, accessible health-care services and has also educated healthcare professionals and a wide range of health sector stakeholders on disability inclusive service delivery as prescribed in the policy
It is on this note that the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and a wide range of stakeholders, has put together this comprehensive strategic policy document, a first of its kind, to provide a policy direction to Government, Civil Society Organizations, Development Partners, Media practitioners and the Organized Private Sector, on how to deal with reproductive health concerns of Women and Girls with Disabilities (WGWD), he said.