Today’s post comes from Krissy Bisda, representative of Persons with Disability Advocating for Rights and Empowerment (PARE), one of the W-DARE project partners.
The W-DARE team is entrenched in the second phase of the research project, which we regard as the “Interventions” phase. Data gathered from the first phase says a lot about the issues and social barriers that can impact the sexual and reproductive health of Filipinas with disabilities. To note a few, economic status of women with disabilities, negative attitudes of health workers and inaccessible infrastructure and hospitals/clinics and information surfaced as some of the major hurdles in maintaining a healthy and risk free reproductive life for women with disabilities. At the end of the first phase of the project, there was a thorough action planning process to develop interventions to address the problems identified in the evidence acquired through the household survey and in-depth interviews.
One of the many strengths and assets of the W-DARE team is that they invest in human capital. They have capacitated their work force and hired authentic, highly skilled and very talented women with disabilities. And I feel that this strategy has made the results of the project genuine and remarkable. Women with disabilities are also expected to be involved at this level until the project reaches its end in March 2016. This year, the team is starting to do one of their agreed interventions, Peer Action Group (PAG) sessions, with women with disabilities in Ligao City (Albay province) and Quezon City (Metro Manila). The assigned peer facilitators and associate facilitators are women with visual impairment, women who are Deaf, persons with psychosocial disabilities, parents of persons with intellectual disabilities and wheelchair users.
Carmi Licerio, an empowered woman who uses a wheelchair shared her feelings of happiness when she learned that she would have the opportunity to be a PAG facilitator. Weng Rivera, a brilliant Deaf leader explained that the PAG sessions could elicit a strong and positive impact to Deaf participants because they can easily transfer the knowledge to them without language blockades, and in a manner they will easily understand. She added also that the PAG activity will help to build the leadership potentials of Deaf participants and soon after, there will be more leaders in the Deaf community that will protect and empower younger hearing impaired generations. On a personal note, I am very excited and amazed with everything we are going to do in this activity. It is quite challenging to prepare the learning aids as well as to make ourselves ready to take a leadership role in this project. I have high hopes and positive expectations of the projected impact it may have for all participants. I feel that through the PAG sessions, we can empower women with disabilities to protect themselves and understand their rights, specifically in relation to sexual assault.
There are a few new faces this year (also women with disabilities), who are joining W-DARE as associate facilitators. They are equally excited and so passionate to roll out soon the sessions they have tailored for participants with varying disabilities. In this action research project, in addition to learning from the data we get, our team is working to cultivate an environment free from discrimination, which recognizes equality and respects persons with disabilities. We hope to transfer our barrier free practices more widely to help uplift the lives of women and girls with disabilities, and to the entire disability community in general.