Challenges Women and Girls with Disabilities Face
A disability is any condition that makes it more difficult for a person to do certain activities or effectively interact with the world around them.
Disability is defined by the 2006 United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as long-term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder [a person’s] full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
Here are the challenges women and girls living with disabilities face;
Women and girls with disabilities are at a much greater risk of being sexually abused than other women. They are targeted for rape because they are presumed to be virgins, sometimes the abused is usually someone the victim is physically or emotionally dependent on. The opposite sex mostly takes advantage of their weakness to fight back. This could end with some of these victims contacting sexually transmitted diseases.
Unemployment rates are highest among women with disabilities. The United Nations estimates that 75 percent of women with disabilities are unemployed, and women with disabilities who are employed often earn less than their male counterparts and women without disabilities.
Gender disparities also exist in education. While the overall literacy rate for persons with disabilities is 3 percent, UNESCO estimates that it is just 1 percent for women and girls with disabilities. A HerSTEM student who uses a wheelchair described the problem she faced trying to attend school: “Unfortunately, I cannot go to school by myself—I need someone to take me to school and pick me up. Most Nigerian schools are not designed to be disable-friendly. They have no ramp, so it is hard for me to get in and out of the classroom, and sometimes even that is impossible. Likewise, persons living with other forms of disabilities face similar challenges.
Lack of Access to healthcare
Women with disabilities who cannot access livelihoods are often unable to afford hospital bills. Hospitals that cater to the needs of individuals with disabilities may be in short supply during and after conflict or lack the funding to support necessary medical procedures. Further, women and girls with disabilities who have been sexually abused are at a high risk of HIV infection.
Stigma and discrimination from their families, communities, and service providers is another challenge faced by persons with disabilities.
Women and girls with disabilities may be viewed by their families and communities as little more than burdens, as they are seen to not be able to contribute to the community and may therefore be at heightened risk for intra-familial verbal and physical abuse.
Sustainable Development Goals have the potential to make life better for billions of people, especially those in the world’s poorest countries. However, disability is currently not included in indicators and targets set for the SDGs, and disabled people are often excluded from international and national poverty reduction plans.
In conclusion, Kofi A. Annan, former Secretary-General United Nations, stated, “Disabilities are yet another manifestation of global diversity. Let us always be committed to the fundamental principles of dignity and equality for all human beings.”