The Women’s Integrated Sexual Health programme

The Women’s Integrated Sexual Health (WISH) programme aims to increase access to sexual and reproductive health and rights services for women in West and Central Africa.

Women with disabilities listen to an information session on contraception in Makeni, Sierra Leone. © Larry Tucker

Women and girls with disabilities have the same sexual and reproductive health rights as anyone else. Yet they face barriers in exercising their bodily autonomy, making free and informed reproductive choices, and accessing the services they need.

With a focus on reaching the most underserved populations, one of the core aims of the Women’s Integrated Sexual Health (WISH) programme is to address the unmet needs of women and girls with disabilities for high quality and voluntary sexual and reproductive health services.

The WISH programme is the flagship sexual and reproductive health project funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). The first phase of the programme ran from 2018 to 2024 in Africa and Asia. In West and Central Africa, the programme was implemented in Burkina Faso, Chad, Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.

About the partners

The first phase of the programme was run through a consortium led by MSI Reproductive Choices.

Sightsavers joined in 2023 as the disability technical partner, building on previous work led by Leonard Cheshire.

Other partners included International Planned Parenthood Federation, Ipas, Options, DKT International and ThinkPlace.

Dr Valentin guides two women during a workshop in Kinshasa.
A representative from an OPD talks to health care providers during a training session on disability inclusion. © Justin Makangara

The next phase of the programme

For the second phase of the programme, Sightsavers is working with MSI Reproductive Choices and a consortium of partners including Ipas, Options, WILDAF-AO and RAES. The programme will run in Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Chad and Niger.

This phase will build on the learnings and successes of phase 1. It will further empower women and girls with disabilities to make informed sexual and reproductive health choices and access the services they need. We’ll be working towards improving countries’ ownership and accountability of SRHR services and disability inclusion, and aligning them with national strategies.

What is Sightsavers’ role?

  • We provide technical assistance and leadership to consortium and government partners to incorporate and strengthen disability inclusion in mainstream sexual and reproductive health interventions.
  • We work with partners and organisations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) to develop targeted activities to reach the most marginalised groups of women and girls with disabilities.
  • We identify the barriers that people with disabilities face when accessing SRHR services, and design technical resources to address these obstacles. We also train health care providers to ensure their interventions are accessible and inclusive for all.
  • We closely collaborate with ministries of health and agencies such as the World Health Organization to develop action plans aimed at promoting health equity for people with disabilities.
Three people with disabilities at a training session on sexual and reproductive health rights.

Training pack for health care providers

Sightsavers’ toolkit explores how disability inclusion can be embedded in the SRHR sector, and how to apply practical steps to seek informed consent and safeguard people with disabilities, particularly the most marginalised.

Download the English version (494MB)

What’s been achieved so far?

  • The percentage of people with disabilities accessing sexual and reproductive health and rights services doubled from 2.5% to 5.1%. (Source: MSI Reproductive Choices)
  • Strategic partnerships were established with OPDs in countries such as Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Cameroon and Chad
  • An FCDO co-sponsored session held at Conference of States Parties to the CRPD (COSP 16) shared the key approaches implemented by WISH and how it contributed to progress in harmonising national policies and strategies with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • The Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria committed to developing a strategic roadmap on health equity for people with disabilities

Improving choices and bodily autonomy

Evidence shows that improving access to contraception can reduce mortality and high-risk pregnancies, improve child health and increase protection against sexually transmitted infections.

Read the blog

Everyone has the right to accessible health care

Our inclusive health work

WISH resources

Two women talk at a sexual and reproductive health rights workshop.
Adamsay (left), a client of SRHR services, speaks to community volunteer Zainab.
© Larry Tucker

Learn more about our work on women’s rights

Equality for women and girls