Kenyan lobby urges greater access to contraceptives among disabled women

The Kenyan government and bilateral partners should earmark additional resources towards programs that promote access to birth control services among women living with disabilities, campaigners said on Thursday.

Mildred Omino, advocacy officer at Women and Realities of Disability in Kenya lobby group said that access to contraceptives is key to promote health of women and girls living with physical impairments.

“Reproductive health rights for women with disabilities are key to enable them participate fully in the socio-economic development of the country,” Omino said at a side event held during the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) underway in Nairobi.

Policymakers, campaigners and experts who attended the side event agreed that outdated policies and legislation have undermined provision of modern family planning services to disabled women of reproductive age.

“Reforming our current policy and legislative frameworks should inform efforts to end discrimination of women living with disabilities in reproductive health care services,” said Omino.

She said that disabled women in Kenya are at higher risk of sexual abuse and unwanted pregnancies due to inability to access modern contraceptives amid poverty and social exclusion.

According to Omino, women living with disabilities have grappled with high rate of HIV infections and unsafe abortions that have impacted negatively on their physical and emotional health.

“We are therefore calling upon the government to take proactive steps and ensure that all women living with disabilities are included in national family planning services,” said Omino.

She said that investments in research and compilation of accurate data are key to inform birth control interventions for women living with different forms of disability.

Geetanjali Misra, a disability rights activist said that Kenya should leverage progressive legislation, research, innovations and community outreach to promote access to contraceptives among disabled women of childbearing age.