A snapshot of the SDGs and persons with disabilities in Rwanda

From 25-26 July, I was fortunate enough to give a training on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) in beautiful Rwanda. This training was generously supported by the Disability Rights Fund (DRF) and I presented on behalf of the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC). I also had the true pleasure to get to know the lovely Eugenie Mukantagwera, Country Representative of the CBM Rwanda Country Office, as well as meet some of CBM’s partners.

Alt="Eugenie Mukantagwera participating in the training on the SDGs "

Eugenie Mukantagwera participating in the training on the SDGs

It was an incredible experience to work with a nascent, inclusive, and diverse disability movement. Moreover, the strong motivation to meaningfully engage in advocacy was pervasive among the group. I learned a significant amount from the participants, which greatly helps to strengthen our work at the global level.

We had fruitful discussions and presentations and from these emerged strategies for persons with disabilities to engage in advocacy of national implementation of the SDGs, including:

  1. Find gap in which persons with disabilities are left out.
  2. Advocate with the confident knowledge of that gap.
  3. Work and collaborate with institutions.
  4. Write a policy brief and share with the government.
  5. Represent your constituency in a meaningful way.

Participants discussed and synthesized effective suggestions for DPOs to engage in SDG advocacy at the national level, which are listed below.

  • The starting point for advocacy in SDG implementation in Rwanda is the civil society platform and then to join the working group sectors (government, private, and civil society sectors).
  • The role of DPOs in the SDGs can be to monitor and evaluate the national implementation, but also must have the tools to carry out monitoring and evaluation.
  • DPOs must have strategic engagement by reviewing policies and plans, packaging information for dissemination, and engaging policy makers with concise policy briefs to demonstrate what DPOs are contributing.
  • Obtain rigorous and valid data and evidence inclusive of persons with disabilities that can be communicated.
  • DPOs must be mutually accountable with relevant stakeholders, and must be accountable to hold others accountable.
  • Carry out stakeholder reviews of progress via workshops and dialogues.
  • Create networks with CSOs, international NGOs, and rights groups.
  • Mainstream disability rights through legal frameworks.
  • Provide transfer of knowledge to others (DPOs and others) to advocate in other places because it is not possible to advocate everywhere.
Alt="Group discussion in Rwanda"

Group discussion in Rwanda

Participants and panelists shared that the Rwandan government is quite active in SDG implementation. Thus, it is important to share these valuable findings to reinforce the linkages between the global and grassroots levels in the implementation of the SDGs.

Rwanda is a stellar example of a country that is linking the global SDG indicators to its national development framework. Global indicators are being analyzed in the context of the national development framework in four ways:

  1. The national development framework has indicators that are reflected in the global SDG indicators.
  2. The national development framework has indicators that are partially reflected in the global SDG indicators.
  3. Indicators that are not reflected in the national development framework, but are important and can be adapted.
  4. Indicators that are not included in the national development framework and cannot be adapted.

Currently the SDG focal point in Rwanda is the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, although a strategy is in the pipeline to create a position within the government. Rwanda plans to integrate the SDGs into different sectors and into long-term strategic plans.

Alt="Stellar collaboration: Elizabeth Lockwood from CBM, Sam Munana, Rwandan National Union of the Deaf, and Jorge Manhique from Disability Rights Fund"

Elizabeth Lockwood from CBM, Sam Munana from the Rwandan National Union of the Deaf, and Jorge Manhique from Disability Rights Fund

There are existing entry points for DPOs to actively engage in the SDG implementation process such as participating in civil society platforms and working groups, as well as engaging with other civil society organizations and movements. I look forward to learning more about the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the implementation of the SDGs in Rwanda.






The Geneva half-marathon continues – week 2

Week two: 22nd- 26th August 2016

CRPD 10 year anniversary logo

On Monday, 22nd morning the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will discuss its draft General Comment on education (article 24) and on women and girls with disabilities (article 6) in a private session, with a view to publically adopting them on Friday 26th August.  At lunchtime, we will have a briefing from organisations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) from Guatemala, followed by the first part of the consideration of Guatemala’s initial report led by Country Rapporteur Ana Pelaez, Committee Member from Spain.

On Tuesday, 23rd the Guatemalan examination continues, followed by a lunch briefing by DPOs of Colombia. In the afternoon, Silvia Quan will lead the exam of Colombia.  Silvia is having her own marathon leading the dialogues of two countries in this 16th session – good on you Silvia!

Wednesday, 24th will see the dialogue on the initial report of Colombia continue until lunchtime, when I’ll be interested to see what questions my colleagues put to the DPOs of Italy during their briefing to the Committee.  Why?  As the Country Rapporteur of Italy, I have spent numerous hours poring over alternative reports and scrutinising evidence, so I will not be asking too many additional questions.  I will then lead the consideration of the initial report of Italy.  Don’t forget you can watch live on the UN’s webcasting channel.  My evening will be spent drafting my recommendations so far for Italy, which will be adopted in week three.

On Thursday, 25th we’ll finish the Italian dialogue, and I’ll make some closing remarks.  Then, I’ll be very interested to engage in a lunch briefing provided by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) and Dementia Alliance International (DAI).  This group of people whose rights are enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are beginning to embrace and demand their rights are protected, so watch this space…. In the afternoon, we will discuss internal processes on various guidelines and methods of work.

The working week ends on Friday, 26th with public readings of the General Comments on articles 24 and 6, which will take all day.  They will be our third and fourth General Comments, so cause for multiple celebrations over the weekend.

Keep up to date via my twitter feed: @Diane_CBM and #CRPD16 #CRPD

Reporting back from week 1 of the CRPD Committee in Geneva

In the first week of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, we had constructive dialogues with the following countries:
For Uruguay I asked questions on:
• A comprehensive policy for inclusive education, how it was being implemented and how it was linked to the SustainableDevelopment Goals, particularly Goal 4 on equal access to all levels of education?
• How was the policy on inclusion in the workplace being linked with the Sustainable Development Goal 8, which aimed to achieve full and productive work for all and equal pay for equal work?
• How were persons with disabilities and their representatives involved in the mainstreaming of disability rights in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Uruguay. Read a summary of all the questions and answers here

Ethiopian civil society could not join the public session, but protested outside instead. I stated there was a lack of recognition of multiple and intersectional discrimination, for example in the case of women with disabilities, refugee women with disabilities, and internally displaced women with disabilities.

Ethiopian protesters outside the UN in Geneva

Ethiopian protesters outside the UN in Geneva

I asked what progress was being made in eradicating harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation, and particularly in combatting harmful disability stereotypes? And what steps were being taken to implement targeted campaigns to address those harmful traditional practices? You can read the summary here:

For the dialogue with the plurinational state of Bolivia, I asked about poverty among persons with disabilities and measures in place to address it, including multiple-dimensions of poverty;

Head of Delegation of Plurinational State of Bolivia Addresses the CRPD committee

Head of Delegation of Plurinational State of Bolivia addresses CRPD committee

plans to implement Sustainable Development Goal 17 related to the collection of reliable, high quality, timely and disaggregated data; the monitoring of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and how persons with disabilities were therein involved.  You can read more here:

In addition to the lack of civil society presence for the Ethiopian dialogue, we also lacked any briefing ahead of the examination by organisations of person with disabiiites from the United Arab Emirates.  I wanted to know to what extent was Sustainable Development Goal 11 being implemented, especially in relation to accessible transport and inclusive green and public spaces.

We rounded off the week with an briefing on ageing, and some internal housekeeping.  We are officially one third through the this half marathon….watch this space for more updates.

The Geneva half-marathon is about to begin


The Geneva half-marathon is about to begin – Week One: 15th- 19th August 2016

CRPD 10 year anniversary logo

Why a half marathon?  Well, three weeks instead of five of the meeting of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ 16th session is almost half! Monday 15th: The opening of the 16th session starts at 10 o’clock. We get to hear statements from UN staff, agencies and bodies, civil society organisations and a roundup of inter-sessional work from the Chair of the Committee, Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes from Chile.   You can watch this, and all the examinations of countries, via the webcasting facility, kindly provided by the International Disability Alliance.  At lunchtime, we will have a briefing by organisations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) from Uruguay.  The afternoon will be the first of seven exams also known as the consideration of the initial report.  First up is Uruguay, which will last for three hours and then continues on the morning of Tuesday, 16th for a further three hours. This is the standard time format.

States parties bring a delegation, which can be just four people to over fifty, from high-ranking civil servants and diplomats to junior staff. The head of the delegation makes an opening statement, followed by the Country Rapporteur, who in the case of Uruguay is Carlos Parradussa from Columbia – his first time, good luck!  Then the National Human Rights Institution or equivalent body can make a brief statement, followed by questions from the Committee members in three tranches.  First, articles 1-10, followed by 15 minutes for the delegation to prepare their answers, repeated for articles 11-20 and then 21-33 over a total period of six hours.  At lunchtime we’ll have a briefing by DPOs of Ethiopia and go straight into the first part of the Ethiopian exam led by Martin Babu Committee Member from Uganda.

Wednesday, 17th continues with three hours of dialogue with Ethiopia, followed by a lunch briefing by DPOs of Bolivia and into their exam for the afternoon led by Silvia Quan, Committee Member from Guatemala.

Thursday, 18th morning session will end after three hours of further dialogue with Bolivia, then lunchtime briefing by DPOs of United Arab Emirates, and the beginning of the consideration of their initial report led by Mohammed Al-Tarawneh Committee Member from Jordan.

And it is the end of week one – Friday, 19th morning continues with the dialogue of the United Arab Emirates and then a different lunch briefing by the International Longevity Centre Global Alliance, NGO Committee on Ageing, Geneva, with the support of Age International on “Protecting the rights of older persons and the Treaty Bodies. Opportunities and challenges” a critical area of work to pursue.  In the afternoon, we will discuss activities under the Optional Protocol, where we can discuss individual complaints brought to the attention of the Committee.

Keep up to date via my twitter feed: @Diane_CBM and #CRPD16 #CRPD