Unlocking an Inclusive Society for Persons with Disabilities in Southern Africa

SAFOD Director General Mussa Chiwaula and FFO Secretary General Lilly Ann Elvestad signing Agreement at FFO office

SAFOD Director General Mussa Chiwaula and FFO Secretary General Lilly Ann Elvestad signing Agreement at FFO office

On 16th June 2016, SAFOD Director General, Mr. Mussa Chiwaula, and Funksjonshemmedes Fellesorganisasjon (FFO) Secretary General Lilly Ann Elvestad, signed an Agreement in Oslo, Norway, for a human rights project that will seek to strengthen SAFOD affiliates’ capacity in good governance and promotion of human rights of persons with disabilities. The initiative aims at contributing to SAFOD being a visible and credible regional federation of national affiliates in 10 member countries in Southern Africa.
The project is part of the FFO’s Theory of Change, to contribute to organisation development and Human Rights training that empowers its partner organizations. FFO’s partner organizations, such as SAFOD, contribute to change in attitude towards persons with disabilities in society in general, in governments and other spheres. This leads to improved rights and living conditions for persons with disabilities.
FFO believes that improvements in living conditions of women and men with disabilities can happen if they become aware of their human rights and develop a vision for change, are empowered to organize, mobilize and take collective action for change at local, national, regional and international level. A solid knowledge of their legal rights, evidence of the facts of the present situation and effective methods to communicate and advocate their case is needed to use these tools to engage with and put pressure on decision makers and other important stakeholders to make policies and practices disability inclusive and take deliberate targeted action to mitigate discrimination and exclusion
For this reason SAFOD, the implementing partner, will seek to strengthen its advocacy towards the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the African Development Bank to promote inclusion of persons with disabilities at regional level. SAFOD will lobby and influence SADC and other strategic institutions like Africa Development Bank for increased resource allocation in line with the African Union Decade of Persons with disabilities and the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities and other international human rights frameworks. It will also map policies and priorities of policy makers within SADC and member States to ensure protection and promotion of human rights for male and female persons with disabilities in Southern Africa, and influence SADC to have disability as a key policy agenda and promote it to national governments and development partners.
Also realizing that the youth with disabilities have a very important role to play in ensuring that sustainability of the disability movement in the region, SAFOD will also seek to revive its Youth Wing. The SAFOD Secretariat has already put in place a strategy that will enhance the meaningful participation of Youth Wing members within their national DPOs’ structures so as to prepare them to take over leadership. The strategy will be an effective tool to prevent creating leadership vacuum or crises in DPOs as it is the case in a number of DPOs within the region. Furthermore, SAFOD will seek to strengthen participation of youths with disabilities in national and community development programmes beyond just the Youth wing members, through the mew Youth Ambassadors programme.
Another strategic area of intervention, as per the three-year signed Agreement, is the need to develop the capacity among the affiliate DPOs in the effective monitoring of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), including the production of periodic UNCRPD shadow reports. FFO and SAFOD acknowledge that the active participation of DPOs in influencing the reporting process is an important way in which to monitor, promote and follow-up the work of the CRPD Committee. DPOs may be involved at a number of different stages of the reporting process such as during the preparation of the State Party report, the preparation of reports submitted by national monitoring frameworks, and through the preparation of a parallel report by national DPO coalitions – and the role of SAFOD in this regard will be to capacitate DPOs to be able to they visible and active in all the stages.
To achieve this, SAFOD will adopt the Guidance Document for Effective Use of International Human Rights Monitoring Mechanisms to Protect the Rights of Persons with Disabilities published by the International Disability Alliance (IDA). The objective of this guidance document is to provide practical, hands-on strategies and advice to DPOs and DPO coalitions on the international human rights mechanisms.
Some of the activities will include leadership/good governance training, and targeted CRPD advocacy and communication training for SAFOD affiliates, including training of trainers for sustainability in affiliates; SADC and African Development Bank advocacy on targeted disability issues; national advocacy towards national governments on the same issues; participation in the yearly SADC CSO Forum; training program on CRPD shadow report writing; and youth exchange (peer work) between FFO Youth Wing and SAFOD Youth Wing, including training of trainers for sustainability.

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