On 22-23 August, Alba Gonzalez and I provided a CBM-funded national training on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in Lima, Peru. We presented to leaders from organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) and allies, some of whom are CBM partners. Although I have given various national trainings on the SDGs this year, this was the first one in Spanish. This is extremely important since Latin America is often left out of global development processes, particularly in terms of the SDGs. I am proud to have carried out the training with my lovely Brussels-based colleague, Alba and the support of my wonderful Guatemala-based colleague, Gonna! Thank you both for the stellar work and support.
National SDG trainings such as these are incredibly valuable because CBM and other civil society organizations working on the 2030 Agenda have a responsibility to ensure that the grassroots are kept informed and are able to contribute in a meaningful way. One way to do this is to provide an exchange of information and tools on advocacy strategies related to the implementation of the SDGs.
The training was interactive and provided space for an engaging dialogue from which ideas, lessons, and suggestions were shared. We presented general information on the global agenda and how it relates to persons with disabilities. Additionally, we discussed how the SDGs and CRPD are connected and how they can reinforce and complement one another in advocacy. Furthermore, we provided background on the global follow-up and review process with a recap of this year’s High-level Political Forum (HLPF), lessons learned from engagement in the voluntary national review (VNR) process, and strategies on how to engage in future HLPFs. Finally, we provided a model for national advocacy strategies on the SDGs and in turn participants formulated plans on how to advocate for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the national implementation of the SDGs.
Peru is a strategic country on which to focus, since it is very likely that it will provide a voluntary national review to the HLPF in the coming years and persons with disabilities must engage in the consultation process to be included. Latin American governments that reviewed at this year’s HLPF – Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela – did not engage with civil society in the reporting process, also including persons with disabilities, so this is a region of particular importance in which to focus.
During the training, participants provided examples of barriers that persons with disabilities encounter in Peru to carry out effective advocacy, which are listed below.
- There is a lack of available information on advocacy for persons with disabilities and their families at the national and regional levels.
- Mainstream society has a general lack of awareness and/or negative/medically-focused attitude about disability/persons with disabilities.
- There is a dearth of available and accurate data on persons with disabilities.
- There is a lack of transparency in the government.
- In rural areas there is limited access to technology and Internet due to lack of electricity.
- There is a need for capacity building on advocacy strategies.
- The majority of persons with disabilities lives in poverty or extreme poverty.
- There is limited accessible, affordable, and reliable transportation.
- There is little participation of persons with disabilities in broader civil society networks, and mainstream civil society organizations do not always include DPOs.
- Disability groups can isolate themselves around disability type and do not always collaborate as a broader coalition.
- There can be a lack of empowerment and lack of strong leadership in DPOs.
The group formulated suggestions on how to effectively advocate for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in national implementation of the SDGs, which are below.
- Identify entry points for advocacy for DPOs in different regions and levels of government (municipal, district, provincial, regional, and national) in Peru.
- Collaborate as a larger disability movement to gain more effective entry points in national advocacy.
- Build alliances with NGOs and civil society organizations across thematic areas.
- Lima-based DPOs engage in the implementation of the SDGs in line with the CRPD with DPO leaders participating in national civil society roundtables and creating a national plan on accessibility.
- Carry out a training on accessibility and advocacy for different DPO leaders to strengthen DPOs and to unify the disability movement.
It was such a pleasure for me to return to Latin America where I have lived and worked, to meet old and new CBM partners, as well as to work with and learn from DPOs and allies in Peru. Let’s continue the global and grassroots linkages.