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Accessibility: "Accessibility describes the degree to which an environment, service, or product allows access by as many people as possible, in particular people with disabilities."1 Article 9 of the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requires countries to adopt measures "... to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas."

Disability: "An umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. An impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations." (2) Article 1 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities defines persons with disabilities as including: "those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others."

Psychosocial Disability: "Psychosocial disability is an internationally recognised term under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, used to describe the experience of people with impairments and participation restrictions related to mental health conditions. These impairments can include a loss of ability to function, think clearly, experience full physical health, and manage the social and emotional aspects of their lives. Psychosocial disability relates to the "social consequences of disability"--the effects on someone's ability to participate fully in life as a result of mental ill-health. Those affected are prevented from engaging in opportunities such as education, training, cultural activities, and achieving their goals and aspirations. Not everyone with a mental illness will have a level of impairment that will result in a psychosocial disability." (3)

Reproductive Health: "A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. Reproductive health therefore implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so. Implicit in this last condition are the right of men and women to be informed and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning of their choice, as well as other methods of their choice for regulation of fertility which are not against the law, and the right of access to appropriate health-care services that will enable women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth and provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant." (4)

Reproductive Rights: "[E]mbrace certain human rights that are already recognized in national laws, international human rights documents, and other consensus documents. These rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. It also includes their right to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion, and violence, as expressed in human right documents." (5)

Sexual Health: "A state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled." (6)

Sexual Rights: "[E]mbrace human rights that are already recognised in national laws, international human rights documents, and other consensus documents. They include the rights of all persons, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence, to the highest attainable standard of health in relation to sexuality, including access to sexual and reproductive health care services; seek, receive, and impart information in relation to sexuality; sexuality education; respect for bodily integrity; choose their partner; decide to be sexually active or not; consensual sexual relations; consensual marriage; decide whether or not, and when, to have children; and pursue a satisfying, safe and pleasurable sexual life." (7)

Sexuality: "Sexual health cannot be defined, understood or made operational without a broad consideration of sexuality, which underlies important behaviours and outcomes related to sexual health. The working definition of sexuality is: ... a central aspect of being human throughout life encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviours, practices, roles and relationships. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors." (8)

By Seow Kin Teong

Senior Programme Officer, ARROW


Notes & References

(1.) World Health Organisation (WHO) and The World Bank, World Report on Disability (Geneva: WHO, 2011), 301, http://

(2.) Extracted from World Health Organisation (WHO) website:

(3.) Extracted from Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA) website:

(4.) United Nations, "Programme of Action Adopted at the International Conference on Population and Development Cairo," 5-13 September 1994, 20th Anniversary Edition (New York: UNFPA, 2014), para 7.2, files/pub-pdf/programme_of_action_Web%20ENGLISH.pdf.

(5.) United Nations, "Programme of Action," para 7.3.

(6.) This is a working definition, not an official WHO position. See: World Health Organisation, "Sexual and Reproductive Health," sexual_health/en/.

(7.) Ibid.

(8.) Extracted from the World Health Organisation (WHO) website: health/shdefinitions/en/.
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Title Annotation:resources
Author:Teong, Seow Kin
Publication:Arrows For Change
Date:Dec 1, 2017
Next Article:RELUCTANCE OR IGNORANCE: Ensuring SRHR of Women with Disabilities in Legislation.

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