Introduction:

Advocacy for Women with Disabilities Initiative (AWWDI) and IPAS Nigeria have joined forces to bring about positive change and empowerment for women with disabilities. AWWDI, has been tirelessly advocating for the rights and inclusion of women and girls with disabilities since 2008. IPAS, a dedicated donor and partner, is committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights globally. This collaboration marks a significant step towards improving the lives of persons with disabilities, especially in the realm of sexual and reproductive health.

Project Overview:

Persons with disabilities often face formidable obstacles when it comes to accessing essential sexual and reproductive health services. AWWDI, a beacon of change in the disability community, has spearheaded a comprehensive training program in Oredo Local Government Area (LGA) of Edo State, Nigeria. This initiative, themed “The Shifting Gear,” aims to revolutionize the way women with disabilities access and perceive sexual and reproductive health services. With unwavering support from IPAS Nigeria, AWWDI is driving meaningful change in Edo State.

DISABILITY INCLUSION VCAT/ SENSITIZATION OF WWD THROUGH THE SELF-HELP GROUPS IN OREDO LGA) DATE: 4th AUGUST, 2023

Training sessions on modern contraceptives for women and girls with disabilities in Oredo Local Government Area, Edo State.

On August 4, 2023, a pivotal training session took place under the banner of “Disability Inclusion VCAT/Sensitization of Women with Disabilities through Self-Help Groups in Oredo LGA.” Aligned with the principles outlined in Article 25 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, this session aspired to provide persons with disabilities the same level of quality and accessible healthcare, including sexual and reproductive health services.

Key Training Activities:

The training session focused on sensitizing women with disabilities about modern contraceptives and their significance. Participants engaged in various activities, fostering an environment of knowledge-sharing and open dialogue. Some of the highlights included:

  • Learning through Storytelling: The event commenced with a poignant storytelling session titled “Why Did Beatrice Die.” This narrative set the tone for understanding the importance of accessible sexual and reproductive health services for women with disabilities.
  • Project Introduction: An introduction to the “Shifting Gear” project, supported by IPAS Nigeria, was presented. This project underscores the transformational shift towards inclusive and comprehensive healthcare for persons with disabilities.
  • Sensitization on Modern Contraceptives: A critical aspect of the training was sensitizing women with disabilities about modern contraceptives. Practical knowledge on various contraceptive types and their applications was imparted.
tools for the training
  • Engaging Focal Group Discussions: The session featured Focal Group Discussions (FGDs), enabling women with disabilities to discuss pertinent questions about contraceptive access and usage. Group representatives then presented their insights, sparking enriching conversations.

Impact and Insights:

Dr. Bright, a distinguished expert, guided participants through an informative session on contraceptives. The interactive atmosphere fostered open inquiries, resulting in valuable insights. Questions ranged from contraceptive side effects to methods for preventing unexpected pregnancies. This interactive approach not only enriched participants’ knowledge but also inspired confidence in embracing sexual and reproductive health choices.

Sensitization of Traditional Leaders/Disability Inclusion VCAT – Enogie of Eyaen Kingdom, Edo State

Date: 25th August

In a strong demonstration of their dedication to promoting inclusivity and advancing reproductive health, members of the Advocacy for Women With Disabilities Initiative (AWWDI), led by Madam Ann, undertook a meaningful visit to the Enogie of Eyaen Kingdom in the Uhunmwode community of Edo State. This important meeting aimed to engage with local community leaders and explore a collaborative project between AWWDI and IPAS. The warm reception by the palace Chiefs, even in the absence of the paramount ruler who was on vacation in the UK, established an encouraging atmosphere for the discussions.”

Members of AWWDI alongside traditional chiefs during their visit

Discussion and Engagement:

The meeting commenced with an introduction, during which the AWWDI representatives introduced themselves and their organization to the palace Chiefs. They eloquently presented an overview of AWWDI’s overarching mission and endeavors. In particular, emphasis was placed on the ongoing project in partnership with IPAS, focusing on the advocacy for modern contraceptives among women and girls with disabilities.

The palace Chiefs were both appreciative and receptive to the initiative. They recognized the significance of addressing reproductive health concerns within the marginalized community of women and girls with disabilities. Acknowledging the importance of embracing modern contraceptives, the Chiefs expressed their commitment to advocate for these services among their constituents.

Pledge of Support:

Enthusiastically recognizing the potential impact, the Chiefs pledged their commitment to champion the cause themselves. They eagerly embraced the role of advocates, vowing to spread awareness regarding the benefits of modern contraceptives. By encouraging access to and utilization of these services, the Chiefs believed that they could effectively contribute to better reproductive health outcomes for their community.

Promising Outlook:

As the interaction concluded, it became evident that the engagement had paved a path for constructive collaboration. The AWWDI’s dedication to disability inclusion and reproductive health, coupled with the Chiefs’ wholehearted support, bodes well for the project’s success. This endeavor marks a step forward in fostering a more inclusive, aware, and empowered community.

The productive meeting at the Enogie of Eyaen Kingdom not only highlighted the pivotal role traditional leaders can play in promoting reproductive health but also underscored the potential for collaboration between AWWDI and local stakeholders. The commitment demonstrated by the Chiefs is a beacon of hope, illuminating the way forward for transformative change. AWWDI expresses its sincere appreciation for the Chiefs’ support and anticipates a profound positive impact on the community as this partnership progresses

Training of Health Providers on Disability Inclusion and Stigma Reduction – Edo State

The pivotal role health workers play in building an inclusive society cannot be understated. With this understanding, Advocacy for Women with Disabilities Initiative (AWWDI) in collaboration with IPAS embarked on an enlightening journey of training health service providers in Edo State on delivering better sexual and reproductive health services to women with disabilities.

A group of AWWDI representatives alongside healthcare professionals during their training session

Key Stakeholders Engaged:

Recognizing the significance of engaging the key stakeholders in health services, a comprehensive engagement was organized. Notably, the Honorable Commissioner for Health of Edo State, Hon. Dr. Samuel Allí, graced the training with his presence. His awe-inspiring words of encouragement and appreciation for AWWDI’s collaboration with IPAS set a positive tone for the event. He lauded AWWDI’s efforts in uniting women with disabilities through self-help groups, giving them knowledge and a stronger voice. The Honorable Commissioner urged health workers to open their doors to Women and Girls with Disabilities (WGWD’s), ensuring they have access to essential healthcare and services. He pledged the government’s commitment to crafting and implementing policies that positively impact WGWD’s

Participant Commitment:

The training participants, hailing from various sectors of health service provision, expressed their gratitude for the invitation. Some shared their shock upon learning about the challenges WGWD’s face when attempting to access healthcare. Fueled by a newfound awareness, the participants pledged to give their best and to facilitate WGWD’s access to modern contraceptives.

Participants Included:

– Representative from Primary Health Care (PHC) Coordinator, Oredo LGA

– Representative from PHC Coordinator, Ikpoba Okha LGA

– Representative from PHC Coordinator, Egor LGA

– Participants from Edo Health Agency

– Participants from Ministry of Health, Benin

– Matron from Catholic Archdiocese of Benin City, and many others.

Interactive Group Discussions:

The training’s group session, skillfully moderated by the Commissioner of Health, spurred discussions on addressing the gray areas in providing modern contraceptives to WGWD. Insights were shared, revealing that low self-esteem and lack of awareness were the primary reasons WGWD hesitated to seek medical help.

Identified Challenges:

1. Lack of Self-Esteem: WGWD’s in Edo State require self-esteem training.

2. Low Awareness about Contraceptives: WGWD’s need increased awareness about available services.

3. Lack of Disability Inclusion Awareness: Health workers need further training on disability inclusion.

AWWDI’s innovative approach to engaging health service providers and stakeholders has paved the way for a brighter, more inclusive future. Persons with disabilities often face multifaceted barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive healthcare. AWWDI’s efforts have already borne fruit: improved access to correct information and stigma-free contraceptive services for Women with Physical Disabilities in Oredo LGA of Edo State. Traditional rulers are poised to amplify awareness on inclusion for WGWD’s, and stakeholders are now better equipped to address the needs of WGWD in their respective roles. As a result of these endeavors, WGWD now possess enhanced knowledge about modern contraception. AWWDI is dedicated to ensuring that no Woman or Girl with Disabilities lacks access to accurate information on contraception and the services available.

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