On the 17th of February 2022, Co-lead Programmes Srinidhi Raghavan, spoke at a side event during the Global Disability Summit. The session was titled “Gendered Disability, Inclusive Health and COVID 19”, and included a panel of other eminent speakers from across the globe including Alana Carvalho (Women Enabled International), Yeni Rosa Damayanti (Indonesian Mental Health Association (IMHA)/TCI), Ruth Mkutumula (Disabled Women in Africa), and Reena Mohanty (SMRC/WWDIN).
Alana Carvalho from Women Enabled International, spoke about a global study (with 300+ responses) which was done on the impact of #Covid19 with UNFPA, UN Women, and WEI. A major finding of this research was that increased barriers to health. (More resources are available on their website.) Ruth from Disabled Women In Africa spoke about the realities for disabled women in Africa — loss of employment increased along with instances of sexual violence. Covid-19 was prioritised at the expense of other disability treatments.
Srinidhi focused specifically on gender inclusion in times of crisis. She reported how access of women with disabilities to various health services during Covid 19 was affected by multiple factors including delays, transport, and a lack of information – which caused multiple problems for disabled women. “Non-Covid related healthcare was also deprioritised during the pandemic which led to less access to particular health services – and a steep decline in mental health, and anxiety around the virus” – Srinidhi stated. She addressed how telemedicine was reported to not be as reliable because of internet and consistency of devices. She also spoke about how privacy was rare in homes due to which disabled women couldn’t speak freely with their doctors either. She ended the session by emphasising how women with disabilities faced particular barriers due to the gendered nature of their disability experiences – as our 2020 Neglected and Forgotten report shows in detail.
After this Yeni Rosa from Transforming Communities for Inclusion in Asia spoke about the issues faced by women with psychosocial disabilities in Indonesia during Covid19. Many are forced to live in mental institutions, and many don’t have access to vaccines due to multiple reasons.
Finally, Reena Mohanty of SMRC spoke about their survey on Telemedicine Reena Mohanty and how it increased the vulnerabilities of women with disabilities in India. She shared that although telemedicine has its benefits, there are multiple barriers in its use for disabled women.