Induction Workshop on Disability Inclusion
The UN RC address to participants at an Induction Training workshop on disability inclusion. He called on them to integrate DI in their programming.
I welcome you all to this workshop which promises to be educative and engaging, and most importantly, instructive on how best to factor disability in our work and space. Thank you for accepting the invitation be a part of this exercise. I am confident that by the time we leave this space, after five days of intensive scrutiny of what we need to know about issues of disability and inclusion, we will be well prepared to not just advocate, but constructively advance the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and improve the implementation of disability inclusive SDGSs at the country level.
DISABILITY INCLUSION DEFINED
The United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy defines disability-inclusion as the “meaningful participation of persons with disabilities in all their diversity, the promotion and mainstreaming of their rights into society, the development of disability-specific programmes and the consideration of disability-related perspectives in compliance of the CRPD.”
Disability inclusion is an essential condition for upholding human rights, sustainable development, and peace and security. It is also central to the promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to leave no one behind. We at the UN are therefore tasked to systematically embed the rights of persons with disabilities into our work in the context of supporting Member States to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, leave no one behind and reach the furthest behind first in all areas of our work.
This implies putting persons with disability at the centre of this work. The matra of ‘nothing about us without us’ needs to be brought to life. But in understanding how change happens, while this is necessary, it is not sufficient to bring about the change we want to see. We must work to ensure a whole of society approach and wholistic buy-in to ensure persons with disability can realize their rights and take their place in the economy and society at large.
To advance this goal, the United Nations Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Multi-Partner Trust Fund (UNPRPD MPTF), established in 2011 supports the realization of human rights and their full integration into development processes. UNPRPD MPTF is a unique collaboration that brings together UN entities, governments, organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDs), and broader civil society to advance the rights of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and disability inclusive Sustainable Development Goals (SDGSs).
In August 2020, UNPRPD MPTF launched its Fourth Call for Proposals, inviting UN Country Teams (UNCTs) to submit proposals for joint country-level programmes to advance CRPD implementation at the country level by focusing on the essential preconditions for disability inclusion across sectors and improve and increase the implementation of disability inclusive SDGSs at the country level
UN GHANA EXPRESSION OF INTEREST
UN in Ghana submitted an Expression of interest (EOI), was shortlisted and allocated a budget to deliver an Induction Training, conduct a Situational Analysis, and complete a Full Proposal.
We worked very closely with the National Council for Persons with Disability and Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations to identify country priorities for the EOI which included the need to strengthen existing legislations and policies.
More broadly, the UN in Ghana is in the process of reformulating its Cooperation Framework with the Government of Ghana. A number of key shifts will be signaled in that document:
- Placement of rights-holders at the center of our work
- Broadened partnerships that expand our engagement (traditionally with and through GoG partners) to include civil society and private sector partners. If we are to truly support Ghana’s ambition around self-reliance, then this must be core. With the challenges facing the disability community, we truly need to mean business in this regard through this MPTF
- A commitment to meaningful outcomes for those with whom we seek to support – through transformative actions, empowering partnerships, clear targets and outcomes and greater accountability, especially to Ghana and its citizens.
- A focus on ensuring No one is left behind. This calls for an effective integration of the issues of the disability community across ALL of our work and increasingly in our organizations as well.
PURPOSE OF INDUCTION WORKSHOP
The purpose of this induction training is twofold:
- Strengthen understanding and familiarity of the CRPD and disability inclusive SDGSs to gain an understanding of UNPRPD’s Cross-Cutting Approaches and how to apply them in country programmes and
- Deepen knowledge on the preconditions for disability inclusion in order to prepare UNCTs to complete the Situational Analysis and develop strong joint programmes. Let me emphasize that this will be about a holistic conversation, not one led by the UN. The joint programme we co-design with the disability community must place their issues and their organizations at the centre of the arena of action.
It is encouraging to learn that this workshop has a cross section of participants – primarily organizations of persons with disabilities, Government representatives and UN agencies. Including the private sector in this process will be a key core imperative if we are to shift the effort to also see more persons with disability poised and ready to take up their place in Ghana’s shared prosperity. This will help build consistency of understanding and strengthen relationships among key actors to develop the country situational analysis and support the design and implementation of the joint country programme.
With the meaningful engagement and involvement of organizations of persons with disability through the Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations and National Council of Persons with Disability to plan this workshop, we can be assured of quality outcomes; Outcomes that will propel our work and quest to leave no one behind.
It was evident to us during the heat of the pandemic how some groups such as women, children and older persons with disabilities, and persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities faced greater marginalization and were excluded from services, placed in institutions and experienced higher rates of violence, neglect and abuse, including sexual and gender-based violence. Learners with disabilities in particular, were also more likely not to return to school due to among others, the unavailability of disability friendly remote/online learning systems for continuity of teaching and learning.
It is noteworthy to mention the efforts of the UN in Ghana, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, to empower persons with disabilities through strengthening capacity of PWDs to engage at the local level and COVID-19 risk communication and community engagement which equipped PWDs with the relevant skills and tools in disability friendly formats to make informed decisions and change behaviors to protect themselves and others from COVID 19 infection. The back-to-school campaign by the Ghana Education Service with Support from the UN in Ghana equally ensured safe return of learners, including learners with disabilities back-to-school. Beyond these programmes, there is the need for a strong disability inclusive system that response to the needs of all persons.
Without disability inclusion, the realization of the SDGs will be an illusion. Without disability inclusion, we cannot achieve our human rights goals. The data from the last census shows some of the key arenas in which the community is affected. Two key government led processes this year – the VNR and the UPR also offer opportunities to better understand how the disability community has fared and what needs to be done, transformatively, to unlock the true potential of this community. We need to identify and empower the community to lead the actions necessary (not as bystanders or as potentially helpless beneficiaries but as key agents of change) in the areas of policy and in relation to other key sectoral priorities in education, on climate action, in the digital spaces that increasingly drive us forward, regarding food systems, financial inclusion and opportunity, around the rapid urbanization, and in leadership. The resources are limited and we must deploy them strategically – with and for the community of persons with disability and in ways that rally the rest of Ghana around the transformations required. This is our commitment.
At the just ended Global Disability Summit, approximately 1300 commitments were made by representatives from all stakeholder groups, including Organisations of persons with disabilities (OPDs), civil society organisations and multilateral organisations to “ensuring that political will and leadership generate lasting and meaningful change for persons with disabilities.” They further committed to accelerate disability inclusion through effective collaborations. This is good news. And this good news must be turned to concrete action. And we must all hold ourselves accountable to these aspirations – in tangible ways.
For the next five days, we must examine approaches that will make disability inclusion a reality in Ghana. Let us reflect on how to ensure effective and continuous dialogue and collaboration among stakeholders, CSOs, government and PWDs; Accessibility and use of innovation, and technology to assist PWDs; and formulating policies that ensure the construction of disability-friendly buildings and facilities. Let us push the boundaries to make “disability inclusion” a household commitment in Ghana’s diction and build the alliances that will enable this to happen.