Thematic Entry Points

Gender Dimensions of the Problem

Women and girls with albinism as well as mothers of persons with albinism have been particularly affected by attacks and discrimination targeting the general population of persons with albinism in the Africa region.

Issues

  • Blame and Abandonment: after having a child with albinism: A significant lack of awareness on how albinism occurs: that it is a genetic condition transferred by both parents, has a detrimental impact on parents of children with albinism with a disproportionate impact on the mother. Consequently, mothers are often abandoned by their husbands on grounds that they have been unfaithful since the child is of a different skin colour. Isolation and expulsion from the community is also commonplace due to the belief that the child with albinism is a curse upon the community. Self-removal from the community also takes place in some cases to avoid hostility from the community.
  • Poverty Confinement: Due to abandonment, mothers of children with albinism often face abject poverty upon having the child with albinism. This exposes their child with albinism to further poverty confinement because the child is generally unable to receive education to a level whereby the child can eventually seek gainful employment indoors to avoid contracting skin cancer.
  • Sexual Violence Risk: Women with albinism are often targets of sexual violence. This is owing to the prevalent myth that sexual intercourse with them can bring a cure to HIV / AIDS and confer good luck. This myth not only exposes them to violence but also to contracting various sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies.
  • Health Risk: Due to a general lack of sufficient education to find indoor employment, women and girls with albinism take on various menial work outdoors. Long term work outdoors in the sun also means that women with albinism are at high risk for contracting skin cancer. Research shows that only 2% of people with albinism live beyond the age of 40 in some countries in the region, with the majority succumbing to the preventable disease due to lack of knowledge on prevention, education and the related ability to secure work indoors.
  • Victims of impunity: Women with albinism have been recognized by both UN and AU mechanisms as being particularly vulnerable in conflicts and disasters. Also, they are affected by violence more frequently and severely than others, often falling victims of violent acts committed beyond public purview and with impunity.

Actions

  • Adopt specific measures and policies to address multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination faced by women including adequate access to healthcare, education, social services, and employment
  • Adopt comprehensive policies and plans to educate men about the genetic origins of albinism, particularly in rural areas, such as through government-funded open-door education workshops. Promote the role of men in ensuring the care and protection of mothers of children with albinism as well as that of the children themselves.
  • Massive training for health practitioners: Raise awareness about albinism among traditional and conventional midwives and in healthcare centers, clinics, special ante-natal and post-natal training programs about albinism in maternity wards. Develop and distribute literature and information on raising a child with albinism.

Targets

This thematic area will contribute to the following targets of the regional action plan:

MeasuresIndicators
A. Prevention Measures1.1; 3.2;
B. Protection Measures1.2; 2.4; 3.1
C. Accountability Measures
D. Equality & Non-Discrimination2.2; 2.7; 3.3; 4.1

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