Argentina: Safeguarding sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and girls living with disabilities
“We are currently working… to ensure that people with disabilities have the same dignity, autonomy and legal capacity to decide about their bodies as other people.” – Malena Correa, Project Coordinator at FUSA
People living with disabilities are three times more likely to experience physical, sexual and emotional violence than their peers, and women with disabilities are up to 10 times more likely to experience sexual violence, according to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).
FUSA, an organization in Argentina that provides sexual and reproductive health services, is leading a project called Inclusive Sexual Rights in Argentina (DeSeAr), supported by the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund). The project aims to empower women with disabilities, improve healthcare services as well as local laws and policies on violence against women and girls living with disabilities. The project is co-implemented with REDI, a local organization working on disability rights.
In 2020, Argentina passed a ground-breaking law on women’s access to sexual and reproductive health and bodily autonomy; however, many women living with disabilities are still left out or discriminated against as a previously existing law endorses non-consensual sterilization of people with disabilities. Malena Correa, Project Coordinator at FUSA, shared:
“These articles violated the right of persons with disabilities to health; to equality and non-discrimination; to maintain fertility on equal terms with others; and to a life free of gender-based violence, among others.”
FUSA and REDI have advocated for the law to be amended. They established a network with other civil society organizations that work on sexual and reproductive health and rights and/or disability/human rights, including three other UN Trust Fund grantees. As a result of intense advocacy, on December 9, 2021 the Senate passed a law amendment (two articles), to guarantee that women living with disabilities can be the sole consenters for any decisions affecting their bodies.
The work of FUSA and REDI shows their unwavering commitment to mitigating and ultimately ending discrimination and violence against the most marginalized women and girls in Argentina, even during the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. Malena Correa said:
“Many had to resort to their families for support both inside and outside of the home. In many [gender-based violence] cases the aggressor is a family member or cohabitant.”
She also noted that gender-based violence against women and girls with disabilities in this context often involves deprivation of assistance for basic care and support for their autonomy.
FUSA, in partnership with REDI, quickly and strategically adapted to the new challenges on multiple fronts, including by:
- intensifying training with service providers on delivering disability-inclusive sexual and reproductive health care;
- simplifying activities and materials to continue activities virtually with women and girls living with disabilities;
- collaborating with civil society organizations to organize awareness-raising campaigns;
- producing toolkits on care for women living with disabilities for family members and care providers; and
- informing authorities of the needs of women living with disabilities during the pandemic.
 UNFPA. “Youth with disabilities face staggering loss of rights”. https://www.unfpa.org/news/youth-disabilities-face-staggering-loss-rights. Accessed: October 4, 2021.
 In Spanish: FUSA para la salud integral con perpectiva de género y derechos asociación civil
 In Spanish: Red por los Derechos de las Personas con Discapacidad.
 Law 27610 (2020) Access to Voluntary Termination of Pregnancy
 Law 26130 (2006) Regulations of Surgical Contraception