The Disability Rights Unit, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria has successfully hosted its 9th Annual Disability Rights Conference. The 9th Annual Disability Rights Conference focused on the sexual and reproductive health rights of persons with disabilities in the African region. The Conference was held virtually via zoom on 16 and 17 November 2021.
Article 25 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) protects and promotes the right to health of persons with disabilities, including sexual and reproductive health. The conference sought to identify the implementation or lack thereof, of article 25 of the CRPD in the African region, with a specific focus on sexual and reproductive health rights. One of the common misconception around sexual and reproductive health rights is that persons with disabilities are asexual, the conference sought to provide a platform in which such misconceptions are debunked.
Various thematic areas were covered during the conference; such as the intersection between disability and other forms of vulnerabilities, the role of parents and teachers in the sexual and reproductive rights of children and learners with disabilities, safety and sexual and reproductive health and rights, sexuality education, access to justice as it relates to sexual and reproductive rights, and the strategies for the effective implementation of the sexual and reproductive rights of persons with disabilities; amongst other things.
The topics presented at the conference ranged from academic research, empirical research, the social aspect of sexual and reproductive health rights, and self-testimonies of persons with disabilities themselves. The key note address was given by Ms Fatma Wangare Haji who is the Project Director on access to justice at the Kenya Association of the Intellectually Handicapped. Other notable presenters were Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health; Dr Xanthe Hunt, Senior Researcher at Stellenbosch University; and Professor Charles Ngwena, Convening Editor of the African Disability Rights Yearbook.
The Conference was attended by academics, members of civil society organizations, students, alumni of the Centre for Human Rights, and members of governmental organizations. The papers presented at the Conference will be reworked and submitted for consideration for publication in the 2022 edition of the African Disability Rights Yearbook.