Executive Director of the Barbados Family Planning Association (BFPA), Juliette Bynoe-Sutherland has issued a call to activism within the disabled community, as a group of 20 disabled women begin a three-week training programme on mental strengthening and awareness.
The programme is being held by the Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD) Barbados in collaboration with the BFPA and the Barbados Council for the Disabled.
“For many years we’ve been talking and sensitising around issues of disability in Barbados, and some progress has been made … but there are so many issues that remain at the level of discussion and people articulating, general platitudes. We need more activism, more assertiveness,” Bynoe-Sutherland said.
She also encouraged course participants to begin claiming their rights, noting that the disabled have human rights too.
WILD Barbados is based on a Mobility International USA initiative that is being led here by certified trainer, Rose-Ann Foster Vaughn.
An aim of WILD is to empower young girls and women with disabilities on their rights, as outlined by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as well as to develop their personal image, capacity building and leadership skills.
“Think as you go through this exercise about the issues, about asserting yourself, about legal cases, about making petitions to government departments and businesses who are not responsive to issues.
“Use this workshop to stimulate your advocacy as other groups are asserting their rights … to raise awareness we must unite and press hard for what we want,” Bynoe-Sutherland said.
She assured the participants that the BFPA is an ally of the disabled in their struggle for recognition and equal treatment, adding that among the association’s aims is to empower persons with disabilities in matters related to sexual health.
“A lot of people are not aware that we have set aside an examination room and theatre that is wheelchair accessible.
“Our facilities are not only disability friendly but our staff have been sensitised to disability issues. We don’t ask why you want to be sexually active, or why do you desire to have a pregnancy – we focus on how your needs can be facilitated,” Bynoe-Sutherland said.