PARTICIPANTS on Tuesday called for improved resources and technical support to address the needs of persons with disabilities across the globe.
The participants made the call at a United Nation’s 66 session of the Commission on the Status of Women (UN CSW 66).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) monitored the UN CSW the virtual meeting also urged the leaders to end discriminations that push adolescent girls with disabilities behind in life.
They noted that gender, disability and age are key drivers of inequity and discrimination, therefore, when they intersect, their negative impact is compounded.
Participants recalled that data from UNICEF revealed that 27 per cent of children and adolescents of age zero to 17, are likely to be out of upper-secondary school compared to their peers without disabilities.
The UNICEF data also showed that 41 per cent of them were more likely to feel discriminated against and 51 per cent were more likely to feel unhappy.
Ms Helga Fogstad, Executive Director of the Partnership for Maternal Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) and Global Alliance for women, Children and Adolescent Health, said the call was necessary to address the plight of adolescent girls with disabilities. Fogstad said that people with disabilities make up 15 per cent of the global population.
“Women and girls with disabilities experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination which exclude them from various aspects of life. This puts their health and wellbeing at risk, and increases their likelihood of experiencing socio-economic inequities.
“This includes a higher rate of poverty, lower education level and increased rate of unemployment, compared to their non-disabled peers,” she said.
Fogstad, therefore, called for equity and inclusion for adolescent girls with policy and advocacy approaches to promote disability inclusion.
Some of the delegates who spoke during the panel discussion called for greater focus on reducing the structural discrimination caused by gender, age and disability.
They said that women and girls with disabilities suffer up to three times greater risk of rape, and twice likely to be survivors of domestic violence.
The participants said that disable persons are also likely to be survivors of other forms of gender-based violence over a longer period and more severe injuries than women without disabilities.
They noted that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include seven targets which explicitly referred to persons with disabilities.
According to them, the Agenda 2030 is underpinned by the ‘leave no one behind principle ‘which means none of the SDGs can be truly achieved unless people with disabilities are included.
They, therefore, urged governments and civil societies to adopt an intersectional approach which empowered women and girls with disabilities by involving them in developing the programmes that affect them.
Dr Gillian Turner, Senior Health Advisor, Policy Division of the United States Department for International Development said that people with disabilities have the same physical and mental health needs as the rest of the population.
“However they face higher healthcare costs, more barriers to accessing services and less health coverage.
This, he said impacted on their right to lead an independent life.
“We want people with disabilities everywhere to be able to access and use affordable, accessible and quality health information, supplies and services throughout their life.
“We know that multiple barriers can and must be addressed. To do this effectively, we must include and amplify the voices of people with disabilities; they must be part of conversations around matters affecting them directly, he said.
Dr Nurunnahar Begum, the Line Director, Clinical Contraceptive Services Delivery Programme Unit, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Bangladesh said that the Government of Bangladesh was working to ensure that Sexual and Reproductive Health services were for all. Begum said that the guiding principle was ‘No one is left Behind’.
Dr Alessandra Aresu, Director Global Inclusive Health Division said that Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) for all would be achieved only by ensuring that young people with disabilities accessed SRH information and services.
Aresu added that “with the joint efforts of different stakeholders, the SHR goals would be achieved especially through support of young people with disabilities, in fulfilling their sexual and reproductive health and rights”. (NAN)