July 5, 2022

Sri Lanka: Mobilization for Global Disability Summit and human rights advocacy

In 2021, the Atlas Alliance launched the possibility of applying for advocacy grants for disabled people's organisations (DPOs) and mainstream non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The grants were intended for DPOs or NGOs that wanted to initiate new advocacy activities or upscale their existing advocacy work before the February 2022 Global Disability Summit (GDS). A core goal for the GDS advocacy grants was to widen the reach of the advocacy by civil society actors in different parts of the world. This way the grantees could prepare their authorities and donors for the GDS and help them make the right commitments at the upcoming GDS.

Yglobal’s local partner in Sri Lanka, YMCA of Pamunugama, was one of the grantees of the GDS advocacy grants from the Atlas Alliance. In close cooperation with Sri Lanka Welfare Society of the Blind, YMCA Pamunugama organised two live radio interviews on the Sri Lankan Visura Media and Seth FM in February 2022. On these radio shows YMCA the delegates talk about their disability mainstreaming and inclusion work, and the need for collective efforts and wider involvement of civil society actors to safeguard the rights of persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka without leaving the struggle only on the shoulders of the DPOs. During the interview on Seth FM, YMCA delegates explained the new project they have launched to mobilize civil society and youth groups to join the DPOs to promote the human rights of persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka and urged everyone to take part in this important initiative. They also discussed the need to consider disabilities as something natural that could happen to anyone at any time. The core message was that creating an environment for people with disabilities to live with dignity is not an act of charity but a social responsibility.  

An article was published in 'Lankadeepa' Sunday newspaper in Sri Lanka, in the local language, presenting interviews with government officers responsible for welfare services for persons with disabilities and disability rights activists. The article discussed the status of persons with disabilities and proposed actions improving access, education, and job opportunities. The article also reports that the government admits to its shortcomings and acknowledges the activists’ pressure for immediate action.  

Due to the pre-GDS mobilization work in Sri Lanka including the GDS advocacy grant, YMCA of Pamunugama arranged a National Disability Summit with over 50 people from 10 different organisations participating.