In July 2022. within the project Promotion of sexual and reproductive health of women with disabilities by increasing their capacities for advocacy and sensitization of health workers, associates of IZ KRUGA VOJVODINA and members of The Initiative of women with disabilities for the promotion of sexual and reproductive rights in Serbia held series of educational activities for women with different types of disabilities and medical professionals from gynecological departments.
Educational events in the municipalities of Vranje, Valjevo, Raska and Temerin
The aim of educational events was to raise awareness of women with disabilities about the importance of prevention for sexual and reproductive health and to motivate women to do regular gynecological check-ups.
Gordana Stojanovic, a member of The Initiative from Vranje gathered twenty women with disabilities in the rooms of The Associations of patients with multiple sclerosis of Pcinja County Vranje on July 12, 2022. and informed them about the significance of the preventive examinations for sexual and reproductive health and the possibilities of preventive group check-ups for women with different disabilities in the Health Centre Vranje.
Educational event with women with disabilities from Vranje
Svetlana Jankovic Beljanski, a member of The Initiative and an activist for the rights of persons with disabilities, assembled women with disabilities in Valjevo and spoke about the advancement of sexual and reproductive rights of women with disabilities and the significance of preventive gynecological examinations. She abetted them to think about the challenges and obstacles they face in exercising their rights. An educational event for women with disabilities was held on July 12, 2022. in The Museum of Local Writers in Valjevo.
– In order to encourage women with disabilities from Valjevo to enhance their knowledge about sexual and reproductive health and rights, the participants suggested holding educational forums where medical professionals would talk about the prevention of gynecological diseases and the promotion of sexual and reproductive rights – said Svetlana Jankovic Beljanski.
A member of The Initiative from Raska, Dusica Sretenovic, talked with 17 women with disabilities about the importance of preventive check-ups for early detection of oncological and gynecological diseases, such as cervical cancer and breast tumors. She also spoke about the obstacles women with disabilities face in exercising their rights to sexual and reproductive health. Most women participants in the training declared they had regular gynecological examinations. Women that don’t have regular check-ups named the following reasons for not doing them: they think that the climax period has finished and that they don’t need them, some women never had a partner or sexual intercourse and they believe they don’t have any gynecological illness, or they don’t have a habit or culture to go to a periodical or preventive gynecological or ultrasound examinations. The educational event with women with disabilities from Raska took place on July 13, 2022.
Participants of the educational event for women with disabilities in Raska
Tatjana Srdic, a member of The Initiative from Temerin assembled 14 women with disabilities (physical, mental and intellectual) and talked about the sexual and reproductive rights of women with disabilities and the importance of their involvement in activities aimed at improving their rights. An educational event with women with disabilities from Temerin took place in the rooms of The Citizen’s Association Kap on July 16, 2022. During this period, a particular incentive has been given to the inclusion of women with disabilities whose mother tongue is Hungarian and deaf women using sign language. Tajana also talked with the participants about the obstacles they face in exercising their sexual and reproductive rights.
A nurse of Hungarian nationality works at the Department of Gynecology, Health Center in Temerin and mediates communication when a Hungarian-speaking disabled woman comes for an examination because the doctor speaks only Serbian. Participants of the educational event suggested that scheduling should be done by SMS in Temerin, which would encourage women with speech impairment to do gynecological examinations.
– A support system for the advancement of sexual and reproductive health of women and girls with disabilities is not developed. Informing is scarce, as is care about the reproductive health of women as a whole and prejudice about the sexuality of women with disabilities is widespread among medical experts as well. A mother of a sixteen-year-old girl tried to schedule a gynecological check-up in the Temerin Health Center. A nurse told her that a sixteen-year-old girl doesn’t have to be brought up for a check-up before she is eighteen and sexually active – says Tatjana Srdic.
Participants of the educational event for women with disabilities from Temerin
Educational sessions in Vranje, Valjevu and Raska
The educational sessions for medical experts aimed to improve their treatment of women with different types of disabilities so that gynecological examinations are performed without discrimination and communication barriers in the future.
Gordana Stojanovic, a member of The Initiative from Vranje, held the educational session for medical experts of The Gynaecological Department – Health Center Vranje where she spoke about the obstacles women with disabilities face in exercising their sexual and reproductive rights, the inaccessibility of health institutions (architectural, communicational, informational). She presented guidelines for dealing with women with different types of disabilities. The educational session with medical experts took place in The Health Center Vranje on July 20, 2022.
– We continue the cooperation with medical experts we started in 2020. during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time we displaced the hydraulic gynecological table from the red COVID zone into a green, safe one. Women with disabilities are motivated to improve their sexual and reproductive health. Because of it we are planning 20 preventive gynecological check-ups for 20 women with different types of disabilities at the beginning of September 2022. (16 women with physical disabilities and 4 with sensory disabilities) -said Gordana Stojanovic.
Svetlana Jankovic Beljanski, a member of The Initiative and an activist for the rights of persons with disabilities from Valjevo, assembled medical experts of The Gynecological Department of The Health Center Valjevo on July 7, 2022. Medical experts said that even though the department is accessible to women with disabilities after the renovation, they don’t come to examinations often because of the poorly organized traffic and inaccessible streets, stereotypes and prejudice rooted among health workers, insufficient informing of medical experts about dealing with women with disabilities, communicational barriers and inaccessibility of public transport. They find educational sessions significant for all these reasons.
Educational session with medical experts from Valjevo
The educational session for medical experts of The Gynecological Department – The Health Center Raska took place on July 13, 2022. A member of The Initiative, Dusica Sretenovic introduced the guidelines for dealing with women with disabilities aimed to improve the treatment medical professionals give women with disabilities during gynecological examinations. The participants stated that the guidelines would be beneficial in their future work, particularly because during their schooling and work they did not have any training on how to deal with women with disabilities.
Medical experts at the educational session in Raska
Members of The Initiative incited women with disabilities and medical experts from their communities through educational activities they realized to think about the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women with different types of disabilities and to contribute to their improvement.