In August 2021, the Atlas Alliance announced a call for applications. The request was for organisations (NGOs and DPOs) to start new, or to upscale their advocacy work before the Global Disability Summit (GDS).
Civil society all over the world has been preparing their authorities and donors to make the right commitments at the GDS2022, in order to create more inclusive policies, structures, systems and socities. To finance such additional advocacy efforts, the Atlas Alliance launched (with Norad funding) the possibility of applying for advocacy grants.
Through the disbursed GDS advocacy grants, the Atlas Alliance has entered into many new geograpical contexts. Among the great applications received, two new and five existing Atlas partner organisations were granted financial support to increase their advocacy before the Global Disability Summit. The existing partners who won the bid got funding for projects in four new contexts.
The Atlas Alliance now supports projects in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Colombia, Pakistan, Palestine, and Yemen. New advocacy projects are also being initated in Zimbabwe and Kenya under the same scheme.
Some applicants also used the opportunity to apply for the advocacy grant in order to ensure continuation of existing inclusion projects and adding on an advocacy component. This is the case in Zambia where the grantee works closely with a number of local NGOs and DPOs to promote accessibility of sports for children and youth in Zambia, as well as to raise awareness of disability inclusion and the GDS.
Other partners in countries already involved in the Together for Inclusion (TOFI)- consortium also received advocacy grants in order to scale up their advocacy before, during and after the GDS, although these funds were disbursed from the existing pool of TOFI-funding. These TOFI-contexts are Niger, Uganda, Mozambique and Somalia.
To sum up, DPO partners in 13 countries in the Global South are now receiving advocacy grants for GDS related adocacy. In addition DPOs in close to 50 additional countries, have received advocacy tools for free, to support their advocacy efforts for disability inclusion and implementation of the human rights of persons with disabilities in their countries.
A lot is happening in the global disability movement these days, to raise awareness of disability rights and inclusion and prepare for the Global Disability Summit to maximize its potential impact in different contexts. Here a couple of highlights we have received from partner organisations around the world:
Zimbabwe: Save the Children Norway’s partner in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Association of Parents of Handicapped Children, Zimbabwe Albino Association (ZAA), and the Deaf Zimbabwe Trust (DZT), arranged a public meeting to raise awareness of the Global Disability Summit. Many DPOs made statements about how to ensure the rights of persons with disabilities are realised in Zimbabwe.
Somalia: Somali Disability Network in cooperation with Save the Children Somalia conducted a Pre-Summit conference in Mogadishu bringing together Government representatives, civil society and DPOs to discuss the ambitions and aspirations for the GDS2022. After GDS2018 Somalia ratified the CRPD and several conference participants shared stories of how they have experienced a clear shift in accessibility of services since. Yet, a lot remains to be done.
The conference was organized by Somali Organizations of Persons with disabilities (OPDs) such as the Somali Disability Network with technical and financial support from Save the Children. The event was co-hosted with the Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development and the National Disability Agency (NDA). Among the dignitaries was the Minister of Women and Human Rights Development H.E. Ms. Hanifa Ibrahim. The Minister opened the conference officially and motivated people with disability to continue to stand up for their human rights.
The following key decisions were adopted at the end of the Pre-Global Conference on Disabilities:
- Aligning all state laws, regulations and the constitution to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to that the rights of persons with disabilities are included in the laws and regulations of the state.
- Enacting and implementing disability-specific legislation in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- Establish, empower and maintain partnerships with persons with disabilities and their representative organizations to ensure that they meaningfully participate and contribute to decisions that affect them as well as to national development and humanitarian initiatives.
- Develop inclusive national frameworks for implementing and monitoring access to human rights by persons with disabilities in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
- Establishing accessible businesses, educational centres and mosques to allow full participation and access by persons with disabilities
- Providing comprehensive and inclusive social services and safety nets to ensure dignity, well-being and reduce the impact of natural and man-made disasters (drought, conflicts, floods, etc) on people with disability
- Take all necessary steps to eliminate discrimination and stigmatization against people with disabilities
- Taking all the necessary steps and reasonable accommodations to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal and equitable access to information, basic services and opportunities, including humanitarian assistance.
- Ensuring the availability and access to employment and funding opportunities for persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others.
- Ensure that health services, education and skills development opportunities are accessible to people with disabilities, and they are able to participate meaningfully in them.
- All national plans, budgets and strategies should be inclusive of the specific needs of persons with disabilities and should be drafted in close consultation with people with disabilities to ensure correct capture of such needs.
- Formation of the local steering committee of disability rights comprising OPDs, Civil society and the government that follow up progress against commitments and action points made to enhance accountability.
- Ensure that all infrastructures are in line with the international disability standards and disability friendly.
- Formation of one national disability umbrella to strengthen the capacity and voice of disability movements.
Indonesia: In Indonesia, KOMIU, a partner of Norwegian Human Rights Fund, has worked to map and obtain identity documentation for members of indigenous peoples with disabilities in Central Sulawesi. They recently completed the first part of its project, namely mapping people with disabilities in an indigenous community. A policy document has been submitted to local authorities which has been followed up with a media campaign to draw attention to the challenges this group faces. This has been covered in local media in Indonesian:
Pakistan: The Norwegian Human Rights Fund’s partner, Encourage the Human Development (EHD), and the cooperating DPO, Society for Special Persons Pakistan (SSPP), Multan branch, have recently completed several exciting activities.
These include the development of human rights materials in Urdu, and producing TV and radio-shows. A press conference was also held where demands for increased inclusion and facilitation for people with disabilities were made.
Uganda: FOKUS’ partners in Uganda NAWOU, FIDA Uganda, ADD International and NUWODU are implementing the following project: Advocating for strengthened and increased access to government empowerment programmes for women with disabilities in Uganda. This project reached a milestone at the Eastern Region Consultative Meeting, coordinated by NUWODU with support of partners (NAWOU, FIDA-U and ADD International). The meeting had representatives from districts of Mbale, Iganga, Namutumba, Kamuli, Jinja and Mayuge and these included; local government officials (CDOs), Councillors, cultural leaders- Busoga Kingdom, women with disabilities, able bodied women representatives and CSOs promoting disability inclusion in the region.
The methodology used during the meeting was participatory in nature and considering the special needs of the participants involved. The meeting involved open discussions, focus group discussions and one on one discussions with participants. During the meeting, the members shared various existing Government economic empowerment programmes within the region. The participants also deliberated on the status of access of services in education, health and employment, and key issues were documented for further action and advocacy.
Among the outcomes were numerous important and powerful recommendations:
- Women with disabilities have talents and potential valuable for national development.
- Enhancement of service delivery for the benefit of women with disabilities is needed.
- There is need to have strong representation of disability leadership that can well articulate issues, concerns and demands of women living with disability.
- There is need to target the planning authority and policy makers to ensure disability inclusive planning and budgeting to contribute to realisation of gender equality.
- Need for continuous advocating for disability friendly infrastructure, services and technology for easy accessibility and to promote participation of women with disabilities. For instance, sign language should be universal in all institutions, as well as building ramps on community structures for easy accessibility.
- There is need for massive advocacy on promotion of SRHRs for women with disabilities since most duty bearers and communities assume women with disabilities do not need these services.
- There is need to advocate for establishment of disability desks within the different structures and institutions to promote disability inclusion.
- Disability is broad and diverse, thus duty bearers were urged to always consider the involvement of the different categories of disabilities for fair representation and participation within existing programmes.
- There is need to deal with the cultural aspects that continuously stigmatise women with disabilities through massive community awareness raising to build confidence in women with disabilities to enhance their participation.
- There is need to take advantage of existing social structures like churches to spread information on existing programmes for women with disabilities and other means where information can easily reach women with disabilities.
- Need for collective engagement to produce and collect comprehensive disaggregated data on disability to inform the national status on disability inclusion for planning processes.
- Need to engage the Ministry of Gender on massive awareness creation programmes to deal with mindset gaps and attitudinal barriers that has exacerbated discrimination of persons with disabilities within the social, economic, cultural and political spheres.
- Need to have a think tank of women with disabilities to influence mindset change and showcase successes of women with disabilities to build social confidence in integrating disability within the existing programmes.
- Women with disabilities should continuously be engaged to deal with the dependency mindset that has limited meaningful progress since many still feel entitled to free services and benefits. Women with disabilities need to consistently be influenced to be proactive to deal with “dependency syndrome”.
Kenya: In Kenya, the Head of programmes Roselyne Pepela from YWCA Kenya (Yglobal’s partner in Kenya) was interviewed on Sign TV’s morning show where she talks about the importance of the Global Disability Summit for all – not just for persons with disabilities. https://www.facebook.com/AtlasAlliansen/videos/471793687689284
YWCA Kenya is working with regional DPOs in multiple parts of the country, namely Kisumu Action Disability Network (KADDNET), Mombasa County Disability Leaders Forum (MCDLF), and Women and Realities of Disabilities (WARD).
After Roselyne’s great performance on TV, she was invited to the Breakfast programme on KTN News, together with the National Gender Equality Commission to discuss the second Global Disability Summit, on Friday 11th of February.
Zambia: A consortium of sports NGOs comprising of three organisations (Sport In Action, EduSport and Response Network) have partnered to intervene on some of the challenges and barriers faced by the children and youths with disabilities in the target communities. Through a human rights-based advocacy approach with close collaboration with the Zambia Agency for Persons with Disabilities (ZAPD) and DPOs such as ZAFOD, the consortium is working towards awareness building and building opportunities for youth with disabilities and their families.
Through this collaborative project with Norway Sports Confederation's partners in Zambia, several hundred Zambian children with disabilities have for the first time had the opportunity to participate in organized sports and unfold in sports and physical activity. Norways Sports Confederations website.