From 11 to 13 August, I co-facilitated a workshop in Cochabamba, Bolivia with our partner Victor Baute from Venezuela who represented RIADIS. The workshop focused on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the inclusion of persons with disabilities in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
The workshop was the first of its kind in Bolivia for organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs). The enthusiasm and interest from participants in learning about the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in line with the Convention was quite evident. In addition, Carla Caceres from CBM in Bolivia attended the workshop, as well as other supporting NGOs, including MyRight and ADD. Since Bolivia is a priority country for CBM, the workshop was especially well linked to our focus on global advocacy and national programmatic work on disability-inclusive development.
The workshop was organized by ASHICO, the Association of Hard of Hearing Persons in Cochabamba and member of RIADIS. Thirty DPO representatives attended the participatory workshop from national, municipal, and community-based DPOs from all over Bolivia.
The workshop was inclusive and diverse with representation from Indigenous persons with disabilities, women with disabilities, youth with disabilities, persons with psychosocial disabilities, self-advocates, Little People, persons with disabilities in sports, Deaf persons, Blind persons, persons with low vision, hard of hearing persons, persons with physical disabilities, and families with children with disabilities. Victor lead the facilitation and received positive feedback on being a role model for the Deaf community and persons with disabilities in Bolivia and the region.
Participants shared the myriad barriers and challenges for persons with disabilities in Bolivia. An overarching challenge is that there are many norms and laws in Bolivia for persons with disabilities, but these are only on paper and unfortunately not implemented. Moreover, there is a missing connection between the technical expertise from the UN and the national level in Bolivia in terms of the CRPD and its implementation. In Bolivia, it is at the municipal level where disability laws are implemented and there is real impact.
The top priorities for persons with disabilities in Bolivia that emerged from group work included:
- Goal 4: Quality Education, Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being, and Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.
- Followed by, Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, Goal 1: No Poverty, Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, and Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.
Participants were keen to learn and understand more about the 2030 Agenda and how it links to the Convention. As a result, the level of awareness significantly grew by day 3, as the photo below indicates. With this awareness, the group produced next steps as outcomes, including:
- The disability community in Bolivia will work to be more united and have shared messages to advocate to the government for CRPD and SDG implementation.
- Participants will replicate this training and what they learned in the countryside and other remote parts of Bolivia to a variety of disability organizations and communities.
- A group of participants will replicate and share what they learned from the workshop every month in Cochabamba for persons with disabilities.
- The group proposed that there be a follow-up training in a year to assess what has been disseminated and realized in that time throughout the disability community in Bolivia.
I look forward to working more with the DPOs and partners in Bolivia!