United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability – Activities Supported

Huong Dao Thu serves as a national UN Volunteer Disability Rights Officer with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Viet Nam. Here, she takes the floor to contribute her perspective during a training on the Human Rights Based Approach to Programme. UNV, 2019

Participation by women with disabilities in gender equality debates in Argentina (2020*)
Through innovative and interactive training workshops, the project aims to disseminate information and create tools that allow women with psychosocial disabilities and intellectual disabilities to assert their recognition as subjects of law capable of making their own decisions – with support, if necessary – and participating in the matters that affect them. In particular, these women will be better prepared to exercise – individually and/or collectively – their right to participate in political and public life, their right to health and to free and informed sexuality. The project also aims to form alliances that will facilitate the participation of women with disabilities in key spaces of debate and activism for the promotion of gender equality, such as the National Women’s Conference of Argentina. Materials and knowledge generated throughout the project will serve as a model as the implementing organization seeks to replicate the project across other institutions and regions.
* The project implementation date is subject to the COVID-19 situation in Argentina.

Lesotho disability mainstreaming project (2020)
The project seeks to strengthen effective coordination of disability mainstreaming in the Lesotho annual ministerial plans to promote access for persons with disabilities to public and private services on an equal basis with others. The project will be implemented by Lesotho National Federation of Organisations of the Disabled, who has actively worked towards the formulation of national mainstreaming plans and legislation, successfully lobbying for the creation of the Lesotho National Disability Mainstreaming Plan. The project will be implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Development to ensure the Plan is actively implemented by ministries targeted by the project in the designated provinces through a series of training activities and share tools to develop disability-inclusive budgets and to better support disability-related services. By identifying and providing knowledge to ministerial disability focal points, the project will ensure mainstreaming efforts are better implemented and that development policies account for the needs of persons with disabilities, including through access to private and public services.

Improving access and delivery of sexual and reproductive health rights and services to women and girls with disabilities in Hoima District (2020)
The project will be implemented in Buseruka Sub County in Hoima district, where Uganda has started producing oil and gas, and therefore there is an increased risk of vulnerability to abuse and violence. The project will be implemented by Hoima District Union of Persons With Disabilities and brings together an umbrella organizations of persons with disabilities with local government entities. This type of partnership will ensure that the needs of women and girls with disabilities are properly identified and that local health officials are given the knowledge needed to address those needs. The project aims to create awareness through information education materials, drama shows, talk shows, and community outreach health camps. It will also identify and train women and girls with disabilities as community-based mentors and conduct dialogue meeting with local government authorities.

Advocacy for inclusion of persons with disability in the society (2018)
Zanzibar Center for Disability and Inclusive Development (ZACEDID) with financial support from the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability implemented a one-year project to improve infrastructure accessibility for persons with disabilities in Zanzibar. The project was implemented from April 2017 to March 2018 and has enabled ZACEDID to support the Government in developing the national guideline on infrastructure accessibility standards. During this project, 94 stakeholders from different government and private institutions were trained on infrastructure accessibility, three radio and television programmes was conducted to raise awareness on accessible infrastructure, and successful placement of international road signs for persons with disabilities in Zanzibar.

Promoting Transportation to School for Children with Disabilities in Developing Countries (2018)
This project was implemented from April 2017 to June 2018 by Access Exchange International to raise awareness and promote the provision of transportation for children with disabilities who are failing to attend schools in developing countries. A set of resource materials was produced on school transportation for children with disabilities, including the development of the English and Spanish guide of “Bridging the Gap: Your role in transporting children with disabilities to school in developing countries”, five videos, posters, flyers and animations. These materials were utilized for in-service trainings, meetings, and regional workshops with development stakeholders in Latin America. This project has enabled transportation specialists and educators, together with parents, students with disabilities to work together on school transportation matters in Mexico, Ecuador, and the United States.

Disability Rights Awareness and Inclusive Education: Building Capacity of Parents and Teachers: A Manual for In-service Training and Community Education (2014)
This manual is the product of collaboration between the Crescent Education and Volunteer Service Tamale, and Special Education Division of Ghana Education Service, Accra and Pathfinders, Australia. The content is based on the content of capacity building project funded by the UN Volunteer Fund titled “Raising Community Awareness on the Rights of People with Disabilities and Developing Capacity for Community Support & Inclusive Education Practice in Ghana”. The training workshops were aimed to capacitate teachers, parents of children with disabilities and volunteers about the Rights of persons with disabilities, Inclusive education and Community Based Rehabilitation. This manual is designed to augment parents and teachers’ understanding the rights of people with disabilities, and the concept of inclusive education. The detailed notes will help the teachers, parents and volunteers to understand the characteristics of children with disabilities, their development/ learning needs and how to support them in school and the home. It will also foster more positive relationships between teachers and pupils, between teachers and parents, between parents and pupils and between pupils and pupils.

Global Forum on Human Rights on the implementation of the CRPD articles: 6 (women and disability), 27 (work and employment) and 29 (participation in political and public life)
The project was implemented by Disabled Peoples’ International (DPI) and hosted by their regional counterpart Disabled Peoples’ International Latin-American Region (DPI-LAR) held in Lima, Peru in January 2011. The Voluntary Fund supported the participation of leading international experts in the field of disability who presented at the event and played host to 160 participants of whom more than 60 were women and girls with disabilities. Discussions were held on each of the articles 6, 27 and 29 of the CRPD to indentify key components and develop strategies to effectively implement and monitor compliance. Discussions were planned to explore the relationship between the CRPD and a number of selected regional and international human rights instruments and to raise the profile of persons with disabilities in the future implementation of these projects. The Forum also facilitated discussions led to the development of ten objectives and strategic plan for DPI to focus on during its 8th World Assembly in October 2011. The ten objectives focused on themes including women with disabilities, Millennium Development Goals, disability and HIV/AIDS, youth with disabilities, accessibility and independent living. The Forum also drew attention from local and national governments to take note in disability rights.

Building the Capacity of Women with Disabilities in India: Promoting the Rights to Health and Employment
This project was implemented jointly by Rehabilitation International and Shanta Memorial Rehabilitation Centre (SMRC). The project was designed to improve the quality of life and livelihoods of women with disabilities in the four rural Indian states of Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal by building their capacity to exercise their rights to employment and health. The Voluntary Fund supported to implement four key activities of the project which included: i) advocacy and training for 240 women with disabilities on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; ii) individual entrepreneurship development for women with disabilities who have been previously trained in skills training to gain micro-credit funding, marketing and product design; iii) implementation of loans and business start-up and iv) set-up of an interactive website to promote good health and share health-related information. The intention of the project is the women with disabilities who participated in this project will inform the women of their rights and equip them with the skills to apply for loans through the government funded scheme to set-up small businesses and benefit from the skills training workshops on computer skills, video making, henna artistry, mobile phone repair and jewellery making.

Droit, Egalité, Citoyenneté, Solidarité, Inclusion des Personnes Handicapées (DECISIPH)
Handicap International is implementing this project in five countries: Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo. The project aims to increase the advocacy and awareness-raising activities by organizations of persons with disabilities on the promotion and implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities. The Voluntary Fund supports the training activities of the overall project which includes conducting surveys and studies on the present situation of persons with disabilities; creation of a website to increase network-building and information sharing; setting up of accessible cyber-cafés to allow access to information and networking by persons with disabilities; training, and training of trainers of organizations of persons with disabilities; provision of information technology equipment to organizations of persons with disabilities; national seminars and sub-regional conferences on relevant disability-related themes; support to advocacy activities and awareness-raising activities; study tours to collect information and promote intra-regional exchange and cooperation; and support to the implementation of inclusive local development micro-projects. This project represents a large regional effort which would build the capacity of organizations of persons with disabilities to advocate for their rights, and to promote the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Empowering the member organizations through Awareness, Knowledge and Technology Transfer to Implement the Plan of Action Effectively
The Central Council of Disabled Persons (CCoDP) of Sri Lanka implements this project which is focused on institutional and individual capacity building to develop a network of organizations and people working to promote the rights of persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka.  The project aims to strengthen the organizations which support to persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka, and to promote integration and inclusion of these persons in society, promoting the existence of an effective national network working together to improve the quality life of persons with disabilities. These aims will be achieved via training for these organizations in  management and information technology skills to improve the level and quality of support they offer to persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka; bringing leaders with disabilities on a field trip to visit different civil society organizations and persons with disabilities, in order to give participants a realistic picture of the situation of persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka; conducting a workshop on the theme ‘Role of Media in the Process of Integrating Persons with Disabilities within Mainstream Society’; and providing organizations with information on existing activities for and of persons with disabilities.

Leadership and Mentoring Training for Women with Disabilities
This project is implemented by the Stars of Hope Centre of Palestine, which has developed a workshop to explore the principles of Leadership and Mentoring. The project is meant to address the great lack of training, empowerment, and educational opportunities for women with disabilities in Palestine, which leads to few chances for them to develop leadership skills.  Leadership sessions will include presentations and group work on topics which include feminist leadership principles, examples of women with disabilities who are leaders, and empowerment and participation. Mentoring of other women with disabilities will also be explored, and guidance will be given on how to run mentoring and peer support programmes. In order to encourage future opportunities for women with disabilities to participate in development and social projects, guidance will be given on potential sources of funding. In addition, an introduction to proposal writing will be given.  For all topics, guidance on where to find further information will be given, in recognition of the fact that the workshop will only serve as an introduction to subject areas. The workshop will help to foster a social and professional network among women with disabilities in the West Bank, which will increase the number of women with disabilities involved in decision making within the Stars of Hope Centre’s future possibilities to conduct programming, as well as help to increase the momentum and numbers of women with disabilities engaging in representation activities within the community.

Research and documentation of good practices:
Promoting and Validating Models and Practices in Including People with Disabilities and their families in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Inclusion International implements this project focused on two articles of the Convention as they relate to the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities: Article 24 on ‘Education’, and Article 12 on ‘Equal recognition before the law’ to education. The project aims to develop good practices in inclusive education and supported decision making for persons with intellectual disabilities.  Good practices will be researched and pilot projects in India, Hungary, Columbia, and Ethiopia will be conducted based on this research.  Pilot projects will then be evaluated, and standards of good practice will be developed and disseminated, based on the lessons learned from the pilot projects.

Projects supported by the Voluntary Fund on Disability in 2006 to 2007 include the following:
Young Voices: Bringing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to life in Liberia, Sierra-Leone and Sudan. Leonard Cheshire Disability implemented this project focused on increasing awareness of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Sudan, Sierra Leone and Liberia. In doing so the project also built capacity among organizations of persons with disabilities, NGOs and others in those countries. In Sudan, stakeholders from the north and south of the country were brought together in a workshop to learn about the Convention and to discuss coordination of services and responsibility for delivering and monitoring the Convention. In addition, the project successfully lobbied for a 15-minute weekly slot on UN Radio in South Sudan. This popular radio station reaches the whole country and the programme aims to coordinate dialogue between people with disabilities and policy makers.  In Sierra Leone, the project hosted a national workshop on ‘Young Disabled Voices on the UN Convention’ in 2006, to provide an opportunity for young voices to be heard and fed into the final convention.  The project took a multi-faceted approach by involving persons with disabilities, NGOs, the academic community and government organisations to integrate all interested parties into the advocacy process. The project formed the National Committee for the Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities to ensure that all partners in disability issues can come together to discuss common themes and advocate for change. Activities at various venues were organized to observe the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December, in addition to a media campaign. In Liberia, the project supported the creation of the National Union of Organisations of the Disabled, a union of organizations that has been very active in campaigning for disability rights. The Union has a strong record in advocacy and campaigning including organising activities for the International Day of Disabled Persons.

Capacity building and training:
Strengthening the skills of the National Federation’s of DPOs of Mongolia in promoting and defending the rights of persons with disabilities. Associazione Italiana Amici di Raoul Follereau (AIFO) – in partnership with the National Federation of DPOs Mongolia was engaged in a thorough capacity building program targeted to the Federation itself, its regional offices and it member organizations, in order to continue developing further awareness and advanced knowledge on the rights of persons with disabilities. AIFO is an international organization with a long history and experience working on disability and it is part of the “International Disability and Development Consortium”. The National Federation of DPOs Mongolia is the umbrella organization of the Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) in Mongolia. The Federation was founded in 1997 for the purpose of coordinating the activities of the DPOs in the country in view to better protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. Building upon the experience gained since the creation of the Federation in 1997 the project responded to the developmental needs of the Federation and its members, with specific reference to training and skills improvement in management issues, English, human rights approach and specifically on the Convention process. The project also contributed to the dissemination of disability materials such as the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities as well as the most recent documents on the Convention.

View the project’s Training Manual on the Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Support to the participation and contribution of persons with intellectual disabilities and their families in the development of a Disability Convention (second phase)
Inclusion International (II) – is an assembly of voices of persons with intellectual disabilities and their families that promotes shared values of respect, diversity, human rights, solidarity and inclusion. Inclusion International will continue developing further awareness-raising and advocacy materials on the most important issues related to the Convention process for persons with intellectual disabilities. Building on the experience gained in the first phase of the project develops further its training and capacity building mechanisms for self-advocates with intellectual disabilities, especially in relation to the Convention process thanks to the module developed and tested during the first phase of the project. The application of such module was extended to two more regions and to the global level at the November 2006 world congress.

Small grants for pilot innovative initiatives:

Project on capacity building on disability and human rights advocacy amongst persons with disabilities in Tanzania
Dolased (Disabled Organisation for Legal Affairs and Social Economic Development), a Tanzania-based organisation, wants to see a society with high and sustainable socio-economic development where legal and human rights for persons with disabilities are respected. Dolased engages in: building the capacity of persons with disabilities and organizations of persons with disabilities, with particular reference to advocacy, lobbying, the rights of persons with disabilities, effective implementation of disability policies and legal frameworks. The project  aimed at reaching the general public raising its awareness and advanced knowledge on the rights of persons with disabilities. The project produced and disseminated communication materials on disability issues and on the rights of persons with disabilities. A 2-day seminar on disability and human rights was conducted in view of circulating knowledge and ideas as well as to support the capacity of the disability movement. An awareness campaign on disability and the rights of persons with disabilities was conducted in the mainstream media, including a 1-day seminar specifically targeted to the media.

From patient to citizen
Tanagdoma, Library Cultural Center for Disabled Assistance, is a lead disability organization in Georgia. It aims to provide social-psychological support of persons with disabilities and their integration into social life, and to provide persons with disabilities with library service and implementation of cultural, educational programs, and training. Tanagdoma engaged in a thorough capacity building program targeted to persons with disabilities and organizations of persons with disabilities in order to improve their knowledge and skills (particularly those of selected leaders); to strengthen their institutional capacities; to enhance existing mechanisms and improve new networks; and to advance awareness and knowledge on the rights of persons with disabilities. The project responded to need for better preparing the ground for the future implementation of the Convention at all levels (civil society and Government).

Nalaga’at: Recruiting, Training and Empowering Young Adults Affected by Usher’s Syndrome
Nalaga’at strives to provide Israel’s deaf-blind population with the opportunity to achieve artistic expression, economic independence and social inclusion, to advance their needs and aspirations, and to create greater awareness and acceptance of the deaf-blind in Israeli society at large. Nalaga’at managed training and counseling program targeted to a group of persons with Usher’s syndrome within its two main vocational programmes: theatre and the catering industry. The immediate result of the project was to double the amount of people reached by the vocational programmes, a byproduct of it being the development of further awareness on the inclusion of persons with disabilities. Building upon the experience gained since the creation of Nalaga’at, in 2002 and on the increasing partnership with the Government of Israel and local stakeholders, the project responded to the specific needs of persons with Usher’s syndrome, thereby experimenting mechanisms of inclusion of persons with disabilities as well as the fulfillment of their human rights.

Projects supported by the Voluntary Fund on Disability in 2005 include the following:

Capacity building and training: UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The Albanian Disability Right Foundation – a national organization of persons with disabilities – took the lead in engaging the disability sector, the governmental institutions working on human rights and disability issues and ultimately the Albanian general public through the use of media towards a better awareness on disability issues. This in turn called for a strengthened participation of Albania into the negotiation process of the Convention, in New York. The project did build upon the fairly recent National Disability Strategy to strengthen a human rights approach to policies and practices on disability. It did so by disseminating information on the Convention process, building the specific capacity of DPOs and interested parties, engaging the Government institutions into dialogue and strategic planning, educate de media on the process and use them as vehicles of awareness.

Support to the participation and contribution of persons with intellectual disabilities and their families in the development of a Disability Convention
Inclusion International (II) developed a series of briefing notes on the Convention most sensitive issues with respect to persons with intellectual disabilities. Such briefing notes were prepared in plain language for the benefit of persons with intellectual disabilities, as well as French, English and Spanish. Through the briefing notes and other advocacy activities it engaged in a Communication campaign in preparation for and during the sessions of the Ad Hoc Committee in view of strengthening the inclusiveness of the negotiation process. This was done particularly through advocates with intellectual disabilities. In partnership with the UN Global Programme on Disability it also prepared and tested a module for applying an inclusive lens to the Convention and the strategies for its future implementation from the perspective of persons with intellectual disabilities through a regional testing workshop.

Promotion of Human Rights of Women with Disabilities in the Arab region in support of the UN Disability Convention process
Rehabilitation International held its Arab regional conference on “Disability rights in a changing world” in Bahrain in November 2005. With the support of the UN Voluntary Fund on Disability RI took advantage of the opportunity of the regional conference to gather women with disabilities from the region and target them with specific training and capacity building activities on human rights of persons with disabilities, including information on the on-going UN Convention process. Participants were exposed to two workshops: ‘Gender implications of Disability’ and ‘Increasing leadership and communication skills’ for better advocacy. This project successfully raised awareness of women with disabilities of the human rights of persons with disabilities.

Small grants for pilot innovative initiatives:

Media campaign for promotion of inclusive higher education in Moldova

The Association of Disabled Students “Gaudeamus” – a national organization of students with disabilities – engaged the Moldovan society on the issue of equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities – with specific reference to access to higher education for student with disabilities – through the use of media and public dialogue on disability issues. The project built upon Gaudeamus engagement in dialogue with the Government and interested stakeholders on change of policies towards equalization of opportunities for students with disabilities. Through this project Gaudeamus extended the scope of the advocacy effort towards the whole of the Moldovan society by educating the media and the public on disability issues and rights of persons with disabilities.

Projects supported by the Voluntary Fund on Disability in 2004 include the following:

Capacity building and training:

Proyecto de Capacitación
An innovative project of national training workshops in nine selected countries in Latin America (Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia) and a regional conference for experience and information sharing. The project was built upon the experience of Fundación AM-EN in Ecuador and other Latin American countries in training of trainers and awareness-raising for integrated rehabilitation of persons with disabilities (particularly youth and children with disabilities).

Giving voice to Persons with Disabilities in the Development of a Convention concerning their Human Rights
A major effort of inter-regional capacity building and training implemented by Disabled Peoples’ International. The capacity building exercise was a pilot initiative associated with the process towards a UN Convention on the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities. The project aimed at strengthening DPI as a global organization, with particular reference to its leadership and constituencies in Asia, Africa and Europe. The capacity building focused on: the Convention process, strategic thinking and planning, strengthening communication systems within the organization and a number of regional-specific issues identified by each region at the latest DPI World Assembly. This project responded to the requests for assistance from a number of disability NGOs, particularly in relation to the Convention process. The project represented a considerable investment – in terms of both work and resources – for the UN Global Programme on Disability and was a pilot initiative to be further improved and replicated in partnership with other disability organizations.

Education Initiative on Universal Design in Latin America and the Caribbean, implemented by CVI-Rio
Centro pela Vida Independente Rio de Janeiro in collaboration with a Brazilian Host Committee and in cooperation with the US-based educational non-governmental organization Adaptive Environments, this project achieved to 1) support the gathering of experts and interested stakeholders discuss, share experience and raise the visibility of the accessibility and universal design issues in the Latin American and Caribbean society; 2) involve in the learning process stakeholders and professionals from developing countries from other regions of the world (particularly Africa) as well to expose them to the emergent trends in universal design and environmental accessibility: the conference was the first universal design initiative to focus on building bridges and dialogue between developing and developed countries on those themes; 3) build on the on-going international experience of the universal design movement to establish a network of expert and non-expert stakeholders in the field. Given the centrality of accessibility issues in the disability field, the project aimed at raising awareness on the need for removing environmental – as well as social – barriers for persons with disabilities to be able to enjoy full participation in the mainstream society.

Small grants for pilot innovative initiatives:

Development of Inclusive Education for Children with Disabilities through Community Based Social Services in West Bulgaria: Implemented by the Institute for Social Policy and Social Work of Bulgaria, in partnership with a number of national and local partner including the Ministry of Education and Science, the State Agency for Child Protection, the Municipality of Pernik and various associations of parents of children with disabilities. This project gave support to the establishment of a second Center for Integrated Education for children with disabilities in Bulgaria building on the experience gained during the establishment of the first Center and the subsequent policy initiatives in Bulgaria.

Vocational training and awareness raising on disability
The project trained 20 persons with disabilities from the Sebeta School for the Blind and 20 persons with disabilities from the outside community in managing poultry and generating income by selling eggs and raising and selling chickens. The project was implemented in the rural region of Oromia, in connection to the activities of the Sebeta School for the Blind. The project involved the community at large, through the activities of marketing and selling of products. This implied increased awareness-raising on disability at the local level. The implementing agency of the project was the Development Organization of Persons with Disabilities, a non-governmental organization based in Ethiopia, in cooperation with local partners in the Oromia region: Sebeta School for the Blind, Ethiopian Association of the Blind, Oromia Labour and Social Affairs Bureau.

Promotion of Human Rights for Persons with Disabilities through the Paralympic Movement,
Support to the design and production of a tool-kit on the human rights of persons with disabilities to be distributed to athletes, non-governmental organizations, politicians and decision-makers, journalists and media experts during a specialized symposium on persons with disabilities that was held during the International Paralympic Games (Athens, September 2004). The project was implemented by Rehabilitation International and the International Paralympic Committee.

Support to the Arab Decade of Persons with Disabilities (first phase):  Meeting of experts aimed at reviewing the Arab Decade Document in the spirit of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities and at drafting a Plan of Action for the Decade, also on the basis of the Asia-Pacific and African Decade Plans of Action.