Skip to main content

Jackson School students support UNFPA work with research

August 16, 2017

During spring quarter, a Jackson School Applied Research Program team worked in collaboration with Jackson School faculty member Stephen Meyers, consultants from the International Solutions Group (ISG), and representatives from the UNFPA on a project titled, “Positive State Practices Adopted to Advance Rights of Young Persons with Disabilities to Access Sexual and Reproductive Health and Prevent Gender-Based Violence.”

The student team was made up of six undergraduate students — Stephanie Hansen, Adam Khan, Mary Elizabeth Mayer, Devon Stark, Zack Tarhouni, and Monirangsey Touch. Professor Sara Curran directed the team.

The student consultants produced in-depth research reports and summaries on state practices in Brazil, Israel, and Pacific Island Countries and Territories, researched and drafted a subsection for the report on best practices in humanitarian settings, and developed a report glossary. In addition, the team conducted interviews with key stakeholders and produced interview memos for ISG clients.

The research results and report were formally delivered by the students to the UNFPA on June 2, 2017 via webinar conferencing.  The UNFPA team was particularly pleased with the students’ work. Leyla Sharafi, Gender and Youth Specialist with the UNFPA said she was, “Extremely impressed by the students’ work and excited about the Applied Research Program […] and interested in working with future ARPs on other UNICEF and UNFPA projects.”

Report Summary

Around the world, more than one billion women and men, boys and girls are living with some form of disability. The 2006 United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) provides a comprehensive framework guaranteeing the rights of persons with disabilities of all ages to the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights.

The more recent 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development sets targets for state action to eliminate violence against all girls and women, including those with disabilities, and to ensure access to sexual and reproductive health care services and education for all. Yet persons with disabilities trying to exercise their rights to sexual and reproductive health and access services and programs often encounter several challenges, including lack of awareness, knowledge, and understanding; prejudice and stigma; physical, communication and informational, and attitudinal barriers to health services; and exclusion of persons with disabilities from decision-making. Even programming with the best intentions may treat persons with disabilities as a “target” making them passive recipients of services rather than considering them a significant stakeholder group that should have a voice whenever health programs are planned or decisions made that impact them.

In partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), a team of researchers working with the International Solutions Group is engaging in a global study on youth and disability. The purpose of the study is to identify positive practices states have adopted to advance the rights of young persons with disabilities in two primary areas: access to sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) and services, and prevention and response to gender-based violence (GBV).

The Jackson School ARP Team was asked to contribute to the report through the researching and writing of country briefs, preparation of a glossary, interviews of key stakeholders, and drafting of a subsection on gender-based violence in humanitarian settings.

The Applied Research Program, founded by Professor Sara Curran, matches teams of top-achieving Jackson School students with private and public sector organizations seeking dynamic, impactful, and internationally-minded analyses to support their strategic and operational objectives. If you are interested in partnering with or learning more about our Applied Research Program, visit the International Policy Institute and find our program here.

This publication was made possible in part by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.