Children with disabilities are one of the most marginalized and excluded groups in society. Facing daily discrimination in the form of negative attitudes, lack of adequate policies and legislation, they are effectively barred from realizing their rights to healthcare, education, and even survival.
Estimates suggest that there are at least 93 million children with disabilities in the world, but numbers could be much higher. They are often likely to be among the poorest members of the population. They are less likely to attend school, access medical services, or have their voices heard in society. Their disabilities also place them at a higher risk of physical abuse, and often exclude them from receiving proper nutrition or humanitarian assistance in emergencies.
UNICEF vision is to build a world where every child can grow up healthy, protected from harm and educated, so they can reach their full potential. Every day we’re working to make this vision a reality. No matter who they are or where they are born, we reach out to the most vulnerable children wherever and whenever they need us”.
With the above introduction from UNICEF A total of 30 adolescent out-of-school girls living with various disabilities, have been empowered on sexual/reproductive health rights and life skills at Axim in the Nzema East Municipality.
It was put together jointly by the Rights and Responsibilities Initiatives Ghana (RRIG), the Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights (ARHR), both Civil Society Organations and the Nzema East Municipal Health Directorate.
The goal was to sensitise the girls on how to protect themselves from unplanned, unwanted pregnancies and all forms of gender- based violence.
The event was held as part of the organising NGOs’ “Comprehensive Sexuality Education” (CSE) project with funding from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Ms Regina Ofosu, a Senior Community Health Nurse at the Axim Hospital, and a resource person, took participants through sexual and reproductive health rights, its components and guidelines to reproductive health rights and sexual and gender-based violence.
They were also exposed to the impacts of rape, defilement, abortion and advised on how to develop self-esteem and be assertive in spite of their physical challenges.
Ms Ofosu encouraged the girls to stand up for their rights and pursue their future aspirations with confidence in order to earn the respect and dignity they deserved in society.
She said Section 10 of the Children’s Act 1998 (Act 560) provided protection for the sexual and reproductive rights of children with disabilities adding that, “a disabled child has a right to special care, education and training wherever possible to develop his maximum potential and be self-reliant”.
Again, females had the right to decide when to have children and perpetrators of sexual violence should be reported to the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service.
Ms Faustina Osei Prempeh, the Programme Manager for RRIG, encouraged the participants to be bold and have clear plans about what they sought to achieve in future.