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How the Inclusive innovation challenge aims to ensure rights and choices for youth with disabilities

An African male in a blue shirt smiling at the camera

Harrison Kamau

Communications and Engagement Executive

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in collaboration with the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) and the Global Network of Young Persons with Disabilities (GNYPWD), wrapped up its groundbreaking Accessibility Innovation Challenge. This program empowered young people with disabilities to develop solutions for improved access to sexual and reproductive health care (SRHR).

The challenge resonated globally, receiving a staggering 229 applications from 54 countries across six regions. These submissions showcased a diverse range of solutions tackling the challenges faced by young people with disabilities worldwide. From overcoming risks of violence to securing sexual and reproductive health rights and meeting basic needs, the innovations addressed critical issues.

Four winning ventures emerged from the pool, each driven by a team passionate about empowering young people with disabilities to access SRHR services. These ventures will received seed funding, professional coaching, and participate in tailored workshops designed to refine and propel their innovations forward.

Dr. Nigina Muntian, Chief of Innovation at UNFPA, highlighted the program's significance in a world with a growing disabled population. The Accessibility Innovation Challenge addressed this pressing need by transforming young people with disabilities into agents of change.

The Accessibility Innovation Challenge addressed this pressing need by transforming young people with disabilities into agents of change.

Dr Nigina Muntian (UNFPA)

Louise Gebbet, Head of Communications and Engagement for the GDI Hub, a research center at University College London (UCL), added that

Partnering with UNFPA and the GNYPWD, has played a crucial role in nurturing young innovators' ideas.

Louise Gebbett (GDI Hub)

Albert Haynes, a Ph.D. student at GDI Hub, explained the project's focus on improving SRHR access in low-resource settings. The challenge identified four regionally diverse ventures, each tackling this issue based on the specific needs of their local communities.

Tigmanshu Bhatnagar, a GDI Hub lecturer specializing in disability innovation, emphasized the project's commitment to user-centered design.

Regular feedback and participation from people with disabilities ensured the solutions were crafted to address their specific needs.

Tigmanshu Bhatnagar

The UNFPA Accessibility Innovation Challenge stands as a powerful testament to the potential of young innovators with disabilities. By empowering them to design solutions for critical healthcare challenges, this program paves the way for a future where SRHR services are inclusive and accessible for all.