Abuja - Ipas Nigeria, an NGO, on Thursday sensitised deaf women in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on reproductive healthcare.
The international human rights organisation held the sensitisation in Abuja at a strategy meeting for Deaf Women Association of Nigeria (DWAN).
The Country Director, Dr Nihinlola Mabogunje, said the intent of the meeting was the need Ipas perceived towards including deaf women in reproductive health rights and ensuring that their needs were properly addressed.
Mabogunje said addressing the needs of deaf women in the country necessitated for the quick passage of Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) bill which would ensure the protection of rights of vulnerable, disabled persons in Nigeria.
"Ipas has seen the need of equipping these women with information to ensure that their reproductive health needs are met.
"We are joining the rest of women societies and development partners to speak out and ensure that the VAPP bill is passed because these women and their rights should not be violated.
"The bill will protect their right socially, especially at work places and they will not be treated like a minority in the society.
"The bill will address the issue of gender based violence, women been harassed, the issue of rape and generally issues militating on the rights of women," said the country director.
Mabogunje said that women communities should push harder for the passage of this bill, adding that the women society and vulnerable persons required the provisions of the bill.
She said that the passage of the bill would also repose more confidence of women in them.
Victoria Akintora, Director of Rehabilitation in the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, said President Goodluck Jonathan was willing to sign into law the VAPP bill.
Akintora said the ministry was working with the National Assembly to resolve the technicalities delaying the passage of the bill.
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She emphasised that the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajiya Zainab Maina, have been pushing for the passage of the laws on violence against persons and gender based policies that affect women.
Helen Beyioku, Chairperson of the DWAN FCT chapter, commended Ipas for recognising the challenges disabled persons encounter with reference to deaf women in Nigeria.
Beyioku said there was need for the inclusion of women with disabilities particularly deaf women in mainstreaming of the society.
She noted that disabled women have major challenges in accessing sexual and reproductive health services, adding that the input of stakeholders and partners will uplift their burden.
"There are about 150 million Nigerians and up to 22.5 million of them are living with disabilities and yet they are not included in national planning and development.
"We face lots of discrimination; abuse physically, mentally, emotionally, non access to information, social marginalization, lack of health insurance and lack of sign language interpreters.
"Deaf women live in series of unstable relationship, some indulge in marriages that are health risky and they cannot access sexual and reproductive healthcare," Beyioku said.
The chairperson charged women stakeholders to include deaf women as partners in programming and implementing developmental policies to meet their needs.
She also recommended that they be contained in the mainstreaming initiatives addressing sexual and gender based violence, access to justice and reproductive health.
Besides, Beyioku said that police stations, hospitals and some vital public places should be made accessible by engaging the use of sign language interpreters.
The chairperson said inclusion, participation and filling of capacity gaps among deaf women in Nigeria should be considered to sustain gains made from advocacy for gender equality.