Ekaete Judith Umoh of the Family-Centered Initiative for Challenged Persons (FACICP) in Nigeria has been an advisor to our forthcoming book, A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities, since 2003, contributing her insight and experience as we developed the book and the related issue of the Women’s Health Exchange.
HF: What do you see as the biggest challenges for disabled women in your community?
EJU:The issue of invisibility is one big issue disabled women in my community have to deal with, and this has led to our exclusion in most development programs, especially in the area of reproductive health and rights.
Disabled women in my community do not enjoy most privileges enjoyed by women in my community. Most gender and development programs are planned and implemented in such a manner that is not disability friendly. The special needs of women with disabilities are not considered during the planning and implementation of programs, and women with disabilities are not able to enjoy such programs.
HF: How do you plan to use A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities to address these challenges?
EJU: I hope to use the information in the health manual to engage the health care sector in order to help them to begin to make their programs disability friendly. I really think this book should be distributed to our local health centers; this would help them have firsthand information on how to begin to consider the issues of women with disabilities in their work.
HF: What did you think of Hesperian’s process for developing the book?
EJU: I think the process of developing this book has been very participatory. I like the way different groups of disabled women were consulted with. I am particularly glad that the input in this book cut across class and continents. I am amazed at the number of countries that participated in the review of this book. I think in developing this book, a balanced approach was employed.
HF: What from your perspective is the most important aspect of the book?
EJU: Every aspect of the book is very important to me, but I really like the section on Pregnancy and Childbirth. A lot of women were also very excited about this aspect, it really helped them to unlearn a lot myths concerning disabled women and childbirth.
HF: Is there anything I didn’t ask about that you want to say about the book and being involved in developing it?
EJU: Being involved in the review of this book was a very great opportunity for me and our organization to learn in-depth the concern of disabled women about their sexual health. The review of this book has helped us to begin a support group in the South-West of Nigeria for disabled women. The support group is to help women with disabilities share their concern and fears if any, on their reproductive healths and right issues. We are in the process of beginning a project titled Integrated Reproductive Health Care for Women with Disability. The aim of the project is to help address the gap in service delivery, which has excluded the issues of women with disability. This project idea was conceived during the book review. I think the idea of developing this book is a welcome development.
We are currently finalizing the manuscript of A Health handbook for women with disabilities, with an anticipated release in early 2007.