ASSIST: for inclusive health care for mothers with disabilities in the European Union

Tuesday 9 July 2024

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Over 87 million people across the European Union live with some form of Disability, and according to the European Economic and Social Committee, almost 40 million of this are women and girls. This amounts to 16% of the EU population. While research on Disability rights and Disability justice has increased over the years, research on Disabled women in different phases of motherhood (before, during, and after pregnancy) remains limited.

Mothers with Disability have reported frequent prejudice and discrimination from healthcare professionals: mothers with Disability are given little autonomy or information over their reproductive or sexual health. They reported being questioned for their parenting capabilities, being discouraged from starting a family, or being judged for becoming pregnant. According to civil society, forced contraception, sterilisations, and abortions are commonplace in institutions for people with Disability. Scientific publications support these statements by pointing to discrimination, biases, lack of knowledge and unscientific perceptions within the healthcare sector that create obstacles for mother and would-be-mothers. Furthermore, despite progress in creating accessible entrances, many medical facilities across Europe still don’t have medical equipment appropriate for bodies with Disabilities.

In this context, ASSIST investigates and tackles discrimination in the healthcare sector against mothers living with Disability in all phases of motherhood throughout the European Union.

The project works in collaboration with mothers living with varying forms of Disability and their support networks. We will research and collect data on the discrimination and barriers that are commonplace in healthcare spaces. Our project will tackle this discrimination by training healthcare professionals using a 3D simulation of an Inclusive Clinic that teaches scientifically sound and safe practices, reproductive and sexual health rights, and turns clinics into positive and safe environments for mothers with Disability. ASSIST will be a hub for NGOs, healthcare professionals, Higher Education Institutions and policymakers that amplifies the voices of mothers with Disabilities.

The project partners had their first in-person meeting at the University of Torino in Torino, Italy on 10th and 11th April 2024. Over a day and a half, we shared our background expertise, personal interests in the project, and our hopes for the work. We shared resources of documentaries, news reports, and literature to advance our knowledge on the Disability advocacy, learned about the politics of language of Disability, and discussed how we can best serve mothers with Disability. The importance of the project supported the energetic atmosphere among our partners. We can’t wait to get started.

To learn more about ASSIST and learn about all the news contact Ritti Soncco:

About the project

ASSIST – heAlthcare incluSion of motherS wIth diSabiliTy is a project funded by ERASMUS+, European Commission.


For further information

Read more about the project.

Contact Ritti Soncco:

Strengthening Research Support: a study visit to CESIE by Science and Research Center Koper

Strengthening Research Support: a study visit to CESIE by Science and Research Center Koper

As part of the KRPAN project – Strengthening Research Support and Activities for Progress on European Research Projects), Živa Semolič – project officer from ZRS Koper, Slovenia – joined a dynamic study visit hosted by CESIE ETS in Palermo. Visit aimed to enhance international collaboration and gain insights into organisational processes, project development, networking, administrative and financial project management.