Participants call for more resources, technical support for people with disabilities

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By Angela Atabo

Participants on Tuesday called for improved resources and technical support to meet the needs of people with disabilities around the world.

The participants made this call during the 66th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UN CSW 66).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) monitored the United Nations CSW. The virtual meeting also urged leaders to end the discrimination that pushes adolescent girls with disabilities back in life.

They noted that gender, disability and age are the main drivers of inequality and discrimination, therefore, when they intersect, their negative impact is compounded.

Participants recalled that UNICEF data revealed that 27% of children and adolescents aged 0-17 are unlikely to attend upper secondary school compared to their non-disabled peers.

UNICEF data also showed that 41% were more likely to feel discriminated against and 51% were more likely to feel unhappy.

Ms. Helga Fogstad, Executive Director of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) and the Global Alliance for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, said that the appeal was necessary to address the plight of adolescent girls with disabilities.

Fogstad said people with disabilities make up 15% of the world’s population.

“Women and girls with disabilities experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination that exclude them from various aspects of life.

“This puts their health and well-being at risk and increases their likelihood of experiencing socio-economic inequalities.

“This includes a higher poverty rate, lower education level and increased unemployment rate, compared to their non-disabled peers,” she said.

Fogstad therefore called for equity and inclusion of adolescent girls with policy and advocacy approaches to promote disability inclusion.

Some of the delegates who spoke at the roundtable called for greater emphasis on reducing structural discrimination caused by gender, age and disability.

They said women and girls with disabilities are up to three times more likely to be raped and twice as likely to be victims of domestic violence.

Participants said that people with disabilities are also likely to be survivors of other forms of gender-based violence over a longer period of time and more severe injuries than women without disabilities.

They noted that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include seven targets that explicitly refer to persons with disabilities.

According to them, the 2030 Agenda is underpinned by the principle of “leaving no one behind”, which means that none of the SDGs can be truly achieved if people with disabilities are not included.

They therefore urged governments and civil societies to adopt an intersectional approach that empowers women and girls with disabilities by involving them in the development of programs that affect them.

Dr. Gillian Turner, Senior Health Advisor, Policy Division, US Department for International Development, said people with disabilities have the same physical and mental health needs as the rest of the population.

“However, they face higher health costs, more barriers to accessing services and less health coverage.

This, he said, had an impact on their right to live 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 lives.

“We know that multiple obstacles can and must be overcome. To do this effectively, we must include and amplify the voices of people with disabilities; they need to be part of conversations about topics that directly affect them, he said.

Dr. Nurunnahar Begum, Line Manager, Clinical Contraception Service Delivery Program Unit, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Bangladesh, said that the Government of Bangladesh is working to ensure that sexual and reproductive health are accessible to all.

Begum said the guiding principle was “No one is left behind”.

Dr Alessandra Aresu, Director of the Global Division of Inclusive Health, said sexual and reproductive health (SRH) for all will only be achieved by ensuring young people with disabilities have access to SRH information and services. .

Aresu added that “with the joint efforts of various stakeholders, the goals of SHR would be achieved, especially through the support of young people with disabilities, in realizing their sexual and reproductive health and rights.” (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

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