Raising Awareness about Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights at the Global Disability Summit

16 May 2022

Efforts to advance human rights, including through bodily autonomy, and improve access to services for sexual and reproductive health and gender-based violence can be transformational for persons with disabilities. With a focus on good practices and lived experiences, UNFPA promoted the way forward for youth and women with disabilities at the 2022 Global Disability Summit, welcoming partnership around the We Decide Programme specifically and the ICPD agenda more broadly. 

The Summit was organized to accelerate and mobilize efforts for the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the principle of “Leave No One Behind” and building back better and more inclusive in regard to COVID-19. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres urged all countries to do more to put persons with disabilities “front and centre” of their post-COVID recovery plans. 

Collaboration between UNFPA’s Technical Division and the Government of Norway supported an online exhibit, urban activation event in Oslo, and social media and other communications. These and other events with partners are highlighted here.

Side events highlight rights and participation

Persons with disabilities shared their activism, experiences, challenges and solutions in a side event hosted by UNFPA and Woman Enabled International, “We Matter. We Belong. We Decide.” It included lessons from the We Decide Programme and country-level interventions from partners in Ecuador, Morocco and Mozambique. The event promoted the rights of women and young persons with disabilities including by ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. Another side event addressed the importance of participation by youth with disabilities in sustainable development, human rights, peace and security and humanitarian action was the focus of an event that shared good practices on meaningful participation, including from the We Decide Programme and East and Southern Africa. UNFPA supported the Global Network of Youth with Disabilities for the organization of this side event and partnered with UNITAR, World Health Organization and the Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth. 

Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, spoke at a high-level panel organized by the World Health Organization and the Governments of Norway and Ghana, and delivered a keynote speech at the Gender Spotlight Session emphasizing the importance of SRHR and Universal Health Coverage to ensure “no one is left behind”. Diene Keita, Deputy Executive Director, Programme, highlighted the intersection of disability, gender and youth during the closing ceremony of the Youth Summit, held as a pre-conference to the Global Disability Summit.

Exhibition on the lives of persons with disabilities

The exhibition “WANTED: a world for one billion” showcased the lives of persons with disabilities who are igniting change for themselves and future generations. The exhibition of photographs, audio recordings and immersive films on Ecuador, Morocco and Mozambique was on display during the Summit in Oslo, Norway and online at UN Exhibits. It features 12 portraits and personal stories of women and young persons with disabilities from around the world. It was produced under UNFPA’s We Decide Programme, within the Technical Division and in partnership with the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Norway, Women Enabled International (WEI), Dysturb, and the Global Disability Summit. The Gender and Human Rights Branch in the Technical Division, UNFPA, coordinated the collection and curation of audiovisual materials and provided technical support for the production of the exhibit concept both online and in Oslo.

In a street campaign, the “Wanted: a world for one billion” exhibition was featured over three hundred digital screens in 12 metro stations across Oslo, Norway, displaying powerful images and words of women, men and young persons with disabilities, demanding that inclusiveness must become the norm in societies around the world. This urban activitation #DisabilityInclusion reached over 3 million views in Oslo.

Regional and country offices at the Summit

The UNFPA Asia and the Pacific Regional Office organized a side event on disability and data, and offered practical tools and resources that can be implemented by partners to ensure disability-inclusive gender-based violence prevention and response programming and services. The UNFPA East and Southern Africa Regional Office organized a side event in cooperation with UNHCR, UN Women and UNICEF to identify key priorities for disability inclusion with a focus on girls and women, towards achieving SDG 5 on gender equality and the 2030 Agenda. And key activities were organized by the UNFPA Country Office in Ghana, which joined the government of Ghana in its co-hosting role for the Global Disability Summit.

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