This year, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 December, fell on a Saturday. Therefore, the Atlas Alliance arranged a seminar to mark this day on Monday 5 December.
The seminar panelist were
Ms. Lan Marie Berg (Green Party (MDG))
Mr. Aksel Jakobsen (Christian Democratic Party (KrF))
Ms. Lisa Sivertsen (Department director for Welfare and Human Rights, Norad)
Ms. Gunvor Knag Fylkesnes (Save the Children)
Mr. Hjalmar Bø (Digni) and
Ms. Hanne Witsø (Norwegian Federation of Organisations of Disabled People)
Atlas Alliance Executive Director Marit Sørheim welcomed the panelists and the audience and gave some introductory remarks.
The panel then went on to discuss the topic of the day, namely how we can work together in 2023 to follow up on the various good inclusion initiatives that came up in 2022.
The representatives from MDG and KrF were explicit that Norway needs to contribute more both to long-term development and to humanitarian aid and relief, also and especially in times like these when Norway has unprecedented revenues from oil and gas sales while other parts of the world are threatened by or pushed into abject poverty.
The Atlas Alliance has suggested the establishment of a Parliament network for inclusion of persons with disabilities in Norwegian development cooperation – an initiative to which both representatives from MDG and KrF were very positive and which they promised to further.
On 2 December Norad launched its evaluation of Norway's inclusion of persons with disabilities in development cooperation for the period 2010-2020. The evaluation shows that although much has been done on the normative level to strengthen the commitment to persons with disabilities in this work, in practice most of the initiatives are not yet implemented. Ms. Sivertsen talked about how this will be the focus in the «new and inclusive Norad» which will work systematically for inclusion across all development sectors, such as food security, climate adaption and sexual and reproductive rights – e.g. to make contraceptives and information about these accessible also to persons who are blind or visually impaired.
The organisations had several suggestions to how implementation could be strengthened and what is needed for inclusion to work in practice. Two aspects that were raised were:
· Make inclusion of persons with disabilities an explicit and overarching aspect in all sectors of development cooperation, on a par with gender equality, climate change, human rights and anti-corruption
· Establish inclusion of persons with disabilitites as a separate programme in Norad’s Knowledge Bank (Kunnskapsbanken) as one step towards bridging the substantial knowledge gap that exists in this field.
The seminar brought up several concrete issues that we, the DPOs, NGOs and politicians, will continue to work on together in the coming year.