Posted by Maria Codina on February 15, 2018 at 8:09 am
Girls and young women with disabilities have the right to make decisions over their own bodies and live free from violence and fear. Yet, on a global level, they are the people least likely to enjoy their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Compelled by this reality, Plan International and the Office of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities have joined forces to ensure young women and girls with disabilities can exercise choice and have control over their bodies. The Let Me Decide and Thrive initiative is supported by in-depth, critical eld and desk research and aims to empower girls and young women with disabilities, raise awareness of their plight among stakeholders, and work to secure their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Plan International’s research found that the barriers to SRHR confronted by girls and young women with disabilities are overwhelming: infantilisation and disempowerment; forced sterilisation, abortion, and contraception; disproportionate suffering from all forms of violence; substantial barriers in accessing justice; discriminatory attitudes, norms, and behaviours rendering them invisible; and a lack of accessible and appropriate SRHR information and services.
States have largely failed in their duty to respect, protect, and full the sexual and reproductive health and rights of girls and young women with disabilities; and families and communities continue to be bound by stigma and taboos. International mobilisation is crucial to remedy the glaring void of recognition and care for vulnerable and excluded girls and young women with disabilities.
Plan International’s new global strategy 100 Million Reasons commits us to strive for
a just world that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. Girls and young women with disabilities are an integral part of this strategy. One of the main goals of Let Me Decide and Thrive is to highlight the specific challenges faced by girls and young women with disabilities in realising their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Let Me Decide and Thrive is an urgent call to action for states, policy and change makers, and service providers of the sexual reproductive health and rights of girls and young women with disabilities. In this current, challenging political climate, the risk of attacks on their SRHR may be greater than ever. Failing to act is no longer an option. There is no time to wait!