From the 19th to 22rd November 2019, delegates from EDF met with DPO representatives working at grassroots level in India, more specifically in the State of Rajasthan, supported by Sightsavers India and other project partners. This visit was part of the European Commission supported project ‘Building Partnerships for Sustainable Development Goals: Empowering Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs)’. This was a fantastic opportunity to receive information on the progress made at grassroots level by DPOs and learn more about the positive impact the project has had for the daily of persons with disabilities in India.
Our delegates Nadia Hadad (EDF Executive Committee member), John Patrick Clarke (EDF Vice President), Luminita Caladaras (EDF Women’s committee member) and Lucía D’Arino (EDF International Cooperation and Communications Officer) took part as representatives of the disability movement in the EU and EDF.
On 20th November, our delegates met at the EU delegation in India in New Delhi. Sightsavers India provided an update on the projects’ progress and future plans.
We presented our new international cooperation strategy (2019), as well as the joint letter on the European Disability Strategy and International Cooperation, which includes input from the Global and Regional Umbrella organisations of persons with disabilities.
The EU delegation representatives showed interest in being involved in events and meetings related to the project, and having representation from EU, where possible, to attract more visibility.
The progress being made on the joint paper being prepared on women and girls with disabilities in international cooperation, which will be published at the beginning of 2020, was also discussed.
Photo 1. Meeting at EU delegation in India, 20/11/2019
On the 21st of November, a meeting was held with APNO (All Network’s Organisation) in Rajasthan. This is the first state to form a state level DPO which has successfully advocated for social justice and empowerment, amongst others.
Representatives from 5 district DPOs that have benefited from the programme were present. The issues discussed covered topics like accessibility, political participation, employment, women with disabilities and financial empowerment in India.
The main challenges expressed by DPOs included:
- Scattered, hilly, poor connected areas where DPOs and persons with disabilities are located
- Illiteracy and lack of basic skills
- Patriarchal system that hinders women empowerment
- Lack of official documents such as disability certificates and representation in official records and data bases
- Underrepresentation of some disabilities, such as deaf, deafblind and psychosocial disabilities
The main achievements included:
- Trainings delivered on rights of persons with disabilities
- Creation of skill building resource in Dungapur
- Income generation activities being implemented
- Registration of APNO as an official body in 2019 and strengthened ties with government
- Advocacy for accessibility and access audits in building buildings being carried out
- Increased political participation, representation and inclusive elections (75-95% of persons with disabilities voting in the last election across the region)
- Participation of women with disabilities from remote and rural areas
- Women with disabilities involved in decision making roles and processes
A presentation was also provided by the Women Cell of APNO, where they also expressed that their visit in Brussels in June 2019 was very positive in strengthening the confidence of DPOs and motivation to continue the work. The future plans of APNO and their member DPOs is to create a national alliance and were very inspired by EDF’s work to do so.
EDF delegates had the opportunity to present themselves and their work. Pat, as Vice President, presented the structure of EDF and its work. Lucia presented the work of EDF in international cooperation. Nadia presented EDF’s work on the SDGs and Luminita shared her experience as a Roma women with an intellectual disability.
Photo 2: APNO and EDF representatives at State level DPO meeting in Udaipur, 21/11/2019
Photo 3: State level DPO meeting and EDF representatives holding banner outside of the organisation, 21/11/2019
On 22nd of November 2019, EDF delegates visited the Resource Center in Dungarpur where there was a presentation on their work and positive impact the programme has had to obtain income for persons with disabilities and economic empowerment. EDF delegates learnt more about the products being produced (environmentally friendly jewerly, cutlery, spices, detergent, etc.) at the centre by persons with disabilities and then sold in shops.
EDF representatives then met with representatives of the Municipal Department of Dungarpur, whom were very interested in hearing EDF’s feedback and advice on how to be more inclusive of persons with disabilities. EDF stressed the importance of including DPOs and women with disabilities in all processes and consult on them as experts, not simply as beneficiaries. The importance to include less obvious or visible disabilities was shared, as well as possible trainings and awareness raising campaigns to be organised both inside and outside the government. Pat pointed out that the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on the 3rd of December each year is an excellent opportunity to celebrate and advocate for inclusion and accessibility. Local media was present to cover the news, both before and during the visit. EDF, DPO and government representatives were invited to plant a tree outside of the centre, as a symbol of unity, partnership and long lasting cooperation.
Photo 4: EDF, APNO and government representatives planting a tree in front of Resource Centre in Dungarpur, 22/11/2019