International disability activists share strategies, advocate for change in Bengaluru
The Commonwealth Foundation convened human rights advocates and legal experts from India and six other countries in Bengaluru to challenge the inequalities faced by persons with disabilities.
The World Health Organisation (WHO)’s 2011 World Report on Disability says that 15% of the world’s population live with some form of disability. In India alone, it is estimated that there are up to 80 million people with disabilities.
Policies yet to translate into action
Disability movements across the world have seen significant legislative gains over the last 15 years — from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2006 to India’s own disability rights bill, the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act passed in 2016. But leading rights advocates and experts gathered in Bengaluru this week say there’s more work left to do for the full impact of policies to be felt.
Wednesday marked the end of a three-day workshop convened by the Commonwealth Foundation to help human rights advocates and disabled people’s organisations share strategies on how to advance rights for persons with disabilities in India and their own countries.
Amba Salelkar, a lawyer and international legal advisor specialising in disability law, was among the experts from India leading one of the workshop sessions. She has spent her career across Asia advocating for policy reform in the areas of gender, disability, and mental health. “The opportunity to collaborate with DPO organisations around the world was immense. I was happy to learn so much from their work and I hope to support them in future projects.’
Conference brings together stakeholders from different fields
Apart from rights advocates and legal experts, the conference brought together grassroots activists, NGO leaders, and government officials.
The DPO [disabled people organisation] sector is gaining momentum and strength in India. There is huge recognition from the government of the need to get the voices of DPOs heard to help determine the kind of change the government needs to make in its approach. It was a pleasure to share India’s experience with civil society organisations in the Commonwealth. – V S Basavaraju, State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities in Karnataka
Every participating organisation, visiting from Bangladesh, Kenya, among others further afield, expressed their determination to put people with disabilities at the centre of their work and in dialogue with decision-makers and governments.
“The workshop has provided me with new strategies from partners in India and other countries on how to improve our relationships with government, international bodies and the media towards improving disability rights”, said Florence Kibruthu from Action Network for the Disabled (ANDY) in Kenya. “I will be returning to Kenya with new knowledge and advocacy techniques that will benefit ongoing projects and the disability movement.’
Gillian Cooper, Programme Manager for Knowledge, Learning, and Communications,Commonwealth Foundation, added, “Events such as this are rare chances for project leaders to engage other powerful advocates in their field. Every context is different but it’s clear that sharing experiences and strategies will help these crucial projects and leaders apply fresh approaches to their own work, and continue advancing disability rights in India and at home”.
The Commonwealth Foundation hopes that events such as these can help pave the way for a more inclusive society, by strengthening the civil society organisations and leaders that are vital to advancing disability rights.
This story has not been written by the NewzHook team.