Nkhotakota based radio station, Umunthu FM, has launched a K120 million ‘Quality Menstrual Health for People with Disabilities’ advocacy project in Kasungu with an aim of addressing challenges women and girls with disabilities face in accessing menstrual health hygiene information and services.
General Manager for the station, Edward Kuwacha, said information gap that exists on matters of menstrual hygiene is preventing women and girls with disabilities in communities to fully enjoy their sexual reproductive health rights.
Speaking during a stakeholders briefing about the project in Kasungu on Monday, Kuwacha said there is need to empower girls and women with disabilities with information on their sexual reproductive health rights.
Kuwacha said: “We want to enhance their knowledge and practice for them to understand the existing sexual reproductive health policies. We will simplify these policies into user friendly languages like braille, sign languages and audio visual for them to be able to understand.
“We will also have trainings on capacity building for them to be able to uphold duty bearers responsible if there seems to be no compliance with the policies. For instance, most schools are not user friendly in terms of health hygiene for people with disabilities.”
He said the project will also help to reduce stigma and discrimination against people with disabilities in the district.
“In Kasungu, women and girls with disabilities face a double stigma due to both social norms around gender and menstruation and having a disability.
“Additionally, they experience menstruation differently and more negatively compared to other women, leading to a significant proportion of illnesses and infections associated with female reproductive health,” he said.
District Social Welfare Officer for Kasungu, Harrison Thindwa, hailed the project, saying it has come at a time when a similar project by Family Planning Association of Malawi is phasing out.
“We understand this is a good project because it specifically targets women and girls with disabilities, so we will support it,” Thindwa said.
Chairperson for the Malawi Union for the Blind Kasungu Chapter, Pemphero Blessings, also hailed the initiative, saying it will promote the dignity, privacy and integrity of women and girls with disabilities.
The project is an 18-month initiative supported by Amplify Change and will be implemented in Traditional Authorities Mwase, Lukwa, Wimbe and Chilowamatambe.