FHI 360 organised the second half of their GenderPlus Summit ‘Power and Partnerships: Centering Equity in Global Development and Humanitarian Programs’ 2022 online where Nidhi Goyal, Founder and Executive Director took part in a panel discussion on July 26 2022, titled ‘Drivers and Enablers for Women and Girls with Disabilities’ Right to Health’.
Other speakers in the panel included Sumrana Yasmin (Senior Global Technical Lead Eye Health, Sightsavers Pakistan), Esenam Drah (Ghana-based mental health activist) and Lois Auta (President of the Network of Women with Disabilities in Nigeria), moderated by Diane Kingston (Global Technical Lead, Disability Inclusion and Mainstreaming at Sightsavers).
Nidhi began by speaking about women’s health experiences in countries like India — how women’s health is deprioritised generally, making it worse for disabled women. Three key areas in health, especially relevant for disabled women, were outlined: Consent (eg: dealing with forced hysterectomy), Bodily autonomy (eg: doctors advising against the continuation of pregnancy despite the patient’s wishes) and Decision making (eg: forced medication of certain kinds).
Nidhi stressed that when it came to sexual and reproductive rights, multiple and repeated violations were frequent. She concluded by touching on two ways in which solutions could be built: First by recognising that people and women with disabilities exist — with numbers and narratives — and that intentional inclusion is needed since all of us have our internalised ableism. And secondly, by reframing imagery on people with disabilities and leadership that includes disability.
“Inclusion of disabled persons in health access is not optional.”