This International Women’s Day Sightsavers is fighting for access to health care for all.
Millions of women across the world are unable to access the healthcare they need and participate fully in society.
This International Women’s Day, Wednesday 8 March, international development organisation Sightsavers is calling for all health services to be inclusive and accessible for women and girls, including those with disabilities. Sightsavers is also celebrating the pioneering women who are fighting to make this happen.
A great example is, Director of P
rogramme Operations at Sightsavers, Dr Joy Shu’aibu who oversees programmes to confront the barriers that stop women with disabilities getting access to the health, education, and employment opportunities they need. This includes leading the charge to making sexual and reproductive health services accessible, an area where people with disabilities face harsh discrimination.
Dr Shu’aibu said: “it is a fact globally that women in comparison to men, face barriers in terms of economy, in terms of health, in terms of access to education, and sources of livelihood. But we also note that women with disabilities will face much more barriers, because they’re the ones who are unlikely to get a good education, and because they cannot get a good education, they set out economically disadvantaged”.
She added that “because we have noted that is a priority, the things that Sightsavers is doing, especially under the Inclusive Futures programme, is first and foremost trying to mobilise women with disabilities so that they can have a voice and fight for themselves”
Country Director, Sightsavers Nigeria Dr Sunday Isiyaku said:“Without action, women will continue to go blind in greater numbers than men and continue to have their contribution to education and employment curtailed.”
There are many ways in which women are excluded from healthcare. Women with disabilities are three times more likely not to access the healthcare they need, compared to men without disabilities.
Women are more likely to be blind or have visual impairment than men and have poorer access to eye care services. For example, women are up to four times as likely to develop advanced trachoma than men and are nearly twice as likely to be blinded by this excruciating disease.
Furthermore, women and girls with disabilities experience a higher risk of violence and abuse and continue to be neglected in sexual and reproductive health policies and programmes.
Sightsavers works with partners in Nigeria to dismantle the barriers that prevent women and girls from accessing adequate health care and to promote the right to health for every individual, whilst challenging negative stereotypes. We also campaign so women and girls can exercise their right to get an education and employment.