14.04.2016 National SDG advocacy and persons with disabilities

In March and April I was fortunate enough to travel to Africa twice to provide workshops on the 2030 Agenda and advocacy for persons with disabilities, particularly with DPOs, at the national level. I presented on behalf of CBM, International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC), and the International Disability Alliance (IDA) using the IDA-IDDC toolkits that we jointly created.

In both workshops I presented on:

  • The 2030 Agenda and persons with disabilities in the global context
  • Partnerships and advocacy for the inclusion of persons with disabilities
  • Disability data, statistics and indicators
  • Strategies for implementing the SDGs inclusive of persons with disabilities at the national level

First I presented in Kenya to East African organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) and partners in the region. The conference was organized by Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network (EDAN) and Dr. Samuel Kabue, CEO of EDAN and Board member of CBM Kenya. The focus of this conference was on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in development programs in East Africa. Representatives hailed from Ethiopia, Burundi, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Second, I gave a training in Malawi to Disability Rights Fund (DRF) grantees made up of DPOs and disability and development partners.

CBM in Kenya and Malawi also participated in the respective workshops, which provided a wonderful opportunity for me to meet more colleagues and learn more about our programmatic work at the local and national levels.

Additionally, I had the true pleasure of meeting with and getting to know Deaf community leaders from Ethiopia, Burundi, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Tanzania, and South Sudan. I was particularly inspired by Atim Caroline Ogwang who is the Executive Director of South Sudan Women with Disabilities Network. In the video below she tells us her name, where she is from, and explains her work.

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From engaging discussions and group work the following points emerged and are important to highlight.

Overarching messages

  • Advocacy must take place with local leaders
  • The action starts at the grassroots level and with DPOs
  • DPOs need to work together collaboratively and cohesively

Key strategies to advocate nationally for disability-inclusive SDG implementation

  • Build alliances among national DPOs and with disability and development organizations and broader civil society organizations
  • Push for disability data, particularly disaggregation of data by disability
  • Engage the media as a tool for disability awareness, dissemination of information, and advocacy
  • Build capacity for DPOs and leaders with disabilities to train the community on advocacy strategies
  • Liaise with key focal points (disability and SDG) in the government and National Statistical Offices for the inclusion of persons with disabilities
  • Find resources for support via partnerships
  • Link national plans with the SDGs (e.g., Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda)
  • Use the UN CRPD as a guiding framework for SDG implementation, as well as national disability plans and laws

Suggestions for IDA and IDDC at the global level

  • Produce a best practices model of a country engaging with the national government on SDG implementation
  • Provide easy-to-read, accessible, and International Sign documents on the SDGs that can be shared with all community members
  • Provide a post-review report and analysis on lessons learned on advocacy to include persons with disabilities in HLPF national voluntary reviews

Thank you to everyone for such a warm welcome and stellar learning experience. I have to give a special thanks to EDAN, DRF, and my CBM colleagues in Kenya and Malawi.

In closing, at the global level we have so much to learn from the national context, particularly from DPOs and leaders with disabilities. It is at the national level where we must focus to ensure that persons with disabilities are truly included in the implementation of the new Agenda and are once again not left behind.