i2i inclusive employment programme launches disability and COVID-19 influencer pack

A new advocacy resource for anyone wanting to influence decisions affecting the lives of people with disabilities in a pandemic has been formally launched. The Disability and COVID-19 Influencer Pack has been produced by Innovation to Inclusion (i2i), a programme funded by the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and delivered by a consortium led by pan disability charity Leonard Cheshire, and also including the European Disability Forum (EDF), the International Labour Organization and the World Bank.

This influencer pack – which is aimed at both individuals (people with disabilities and their families and communities) and their representative organisations – explores the impact of measures to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic on people with disabilities.

It shows the challenges faced by people with disabilities, and routes to influencing change in attitudes, behaviour and policy that would make response and recovery efforts more inclusive, now and in the future, in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The information in this pack is drawn from a survey of the lived experiences of more than 300 women and men with disabilities in Bangladesh and Kenya during early COVID-19 responses in April and May, 2020. It contains thematic resources to influence change in attitudes, behaviour and policy which could make pandemic preparedness, response and recovery far more inclusive of people with disabilities.

The resources should help the development of advocacy strategies by helping to identify:
* The specific call for change – what do you want to influence? * Who can make this change happen – who do you need to influence? * What advocacy actions are most appropriate – how can you influence? Each influencer resource can be used independently to help specific advocacy actions, or together as part of a larger strategy.

Welcoming the arrival of the new resource

i2i head of consortium Sakunthala Mapa said: ‘The coronavirus pandemic reminds us of the disproportionate effect a crisis can have on certain groups. They can become even more marginalised and have their rights put more at risk at such times. ‘The impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities has been particularly dramatic and stark, as responses to our survey earlier in 2020 have shown. It has affected every aspect of people’s lives: education, mobility, connections with family and community, employment and livelihoods. ‘We can change the future if we act now and use this opportunity to build back a more inclusive society with lasting solutions to long-standing inequalities. The i2i programme has developed its Disability and COVID-19 Influencer Pack with this positive mindset. ‘Understanding how people with disabilities are experiencing coronavirus is important. We know that access to high quality disaggregated data is vital. This helps to plan and budget for inclusive responses.

Zahir bin Siddique, Leonard Cheshire country representative in Bangladesh, added: ‘This can be used for any advocacy related to disability and anyone can refer to this. This will be very helpful for DPOs initiating advocacy initiatives. The information and data here can be used by DPOs as evidence and ultimately contribute to influencing policy change.’

Catherine Naughton, director of EDF, said: ‘We are very pleased to launch this influencer pack, which has been a collaborative work with all partners, including our DPO colleagues in Kenya and Bangladesh.’ EDF executive committee member Maureen Piggot added: ‘EDF welcomes the publication of this important advocacy resource. Alongside the numbers from the studies carried out are the real-life stories of the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on individual disabled persons and their families. These alone make a compelling case for more inclusive management of the crisis. ‘The pack provides information on successful influencing strategies, the standards and human rights obligations of governments as well as practical recommendations for action on the key issues. Using the Influencer Pack and working together, DPOs have the tools to help their country build a more inclusive recovery.’

DPOs in Bangladesh and Kenya have also welcomed the pack: . Nasima Akter, president of the National Council of Disabled Women (NCDW) in Bangladesh, said: ‘This will be very helpful for us. Everything in here is outlined very simply. We can show this document in discussions with decision-makers.’

Sazzad Kawser, chief executive of Disabled Development and Research Center (DDRC) in Bangladesh, added: ‘This is an easy to read document, simple but informative. I have read it thoroughly and found it very useful. It will contribute to enhancing our advocacy capacity.’

Derek Shimoli Band, from Kenyan Union for the Blind, said: ‘It is indeed credible work, most suitable to influence policy change to trigger the realisation of affirmative action programmes for participation and representation in virtually all spheres of life for persons with disabilities.’

i2i’s Sakunthala Mapa concluded: ‘Our new Disability and COVID-19 Influencer Pack is a brilliant resource for individuals and organisations anywhere who want to influence decisions affecting the lives of people with disabilities during a pandemic.’ ‘Raising awareness of what needs to change leads to knowledge and understanding, support for change and, ultimately, action.’

More information

i2i Disability and Covid-19 influencer pack (pdf)