Author Archives: Alba Gonzalez

Lessons learnt from AWID – From disability to gender advocacy perspective

From 8 to 11 September, I had the great opportunity to participate in AWID conference, which took place in Brazil whose topic focused on “Feminist Futures: Building collective power for rights and justice”.

More than 1800 people, most of them active women working for gender equality, met and discussed about many different topics, from sexual violence against women to the impact of discrimination on tax systems. The conference was structured with one plenary session in the morning followed by several parallel sessions targeting different challenges which Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRD) have to face every day. The energy and solidarity approach taken in every plenary session was inspiring to every person who was in the room. The holistic view of what feminism means united all the attendees, who demonstrated their support with supportive applauses. I could feel how a solidarity network was built in the room. We were all different, but we had one common objective: equality.

CBM organised a side event, raising the challenges that women and girls with disabilities face every day. You can read more about it in the great blog written by Mary Keogh, where you can also find information about a video that CBM launched, raising the voices of women with disabilities from all around the world. I attended some sessions focused on the intersectionality of gender and disability. I also attended some other sessions organised by mainstream gender organisations, in which I learnt so much about the challenges that they face in their daily work. During these sessions, I realized about how many things we, as women with disabilities, have in common with the gender mainstream movement and how much we have to learn. However, in these sessions I was the only woman with disability.

Gender mainstream organisations also have much to learn from disability movement. However, I saw very few faces of mainstream organisations when I attended sessions focused on disability and gender. This makes me think that disability and gender movement are not creating good synergies, at least not yet. Women and girls with disabilities have been in a limbo for so much time: we did not fit in disability movement but neither in the gender one. Slowly but surely, we are changing that panorama, we are more present but still there is so much to do. Only one woman with disability was invited to be part of one plenary session. No gender mainstream organisation participated as a speaker when talking about disability and no woman with disability participated in gender mainstream panel, at least not in the sessions I joined. The twin-track approach must be included in our daily work. We have more things in common with gender mainstream movement than we think, we need to knock that door if we want to make real change.

I think we have that challenge for AWID 2020: more women with disabilities in mainstream panels and in the plenary sessions. More equality and more visibility for a more inclusive future for all.

A Strong Basis for future EU External Action

CBM supported the process of the EU review on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). CBM, as member of the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC), organised two side events and we submitted inputs and replies to the EU initial report on the implementation of the UN CRPD. Through this, CBM achieved that Committee Members of the UN CRPD included recommendations on Article 11 (Situations of risk and Humanitarian emergencies) and Article 32 (International Cooperation) in the Concluding Observations.

Michel Servoz Director General of DG for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion of the EC

Michel Servoz Director General of
DG for Employment,
Social Affairs and Inclusion of the EC

  • Article 11

The Committee is concerned about the lack of inclusion of persons with disabilities in all European Union policies and guidelines on humanitarian aid as well as the lack of mechanisms to share knowledge and good practices in line with the Convention between different European Union institutions and between European Union Member States.

The Committee recommends that the European Union: (a) Adopt an implementation plan, in line with the Council Conclusions of February 2015 and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030; (b) Establish a mechanism to build capacity and share good practice between different European Union institutions and between the European Union and its Member States on disability-inclusive and accessible humanitarian aid; (c) Establish a monitoring and accountability framework for the implementation of European Union policies and programmes including the collection of disaggregated data on sex, disability and age.

The Committee notes with deep concern the precarious situation of persons with disabilities in the current migrant crisis in the European Union. It is furthermore concerned that refugees, migrants and asylum-seekers with disabilities continue to be detained within the European Union in conditions which do not provide appropriate support and reasonable accommodations. The migration decision-making procedure is not accessible for all persons with disabilities and information and communication is not provided in accessible formats.

The Committee recommends that the European Union mainstream disability in its migration and refugee policies. In addition, the Committee recommends that the European Union issue guidelines to its agencies and Member States that restrictive detention of persons with disabilities for migration and asylum seeking purposes is not aligned to the Convention.

  • Article 32

The Committee notes with concern the lack of a systematic and institutionalized approach to mainstream the rights of persons with disabilities across all European Union international cooperation policies and programmes. The Committee also notes the lack of coordination and coherence amongst the European Union institutions, as well as the lack of disability focal points. It is also concerned that European Union international development funding is utilized to create or renovate institutional settings for the placement of persons with disabilities, segregated special education schools and sheltered workshops, contrary to the principles and provisions of the Convention.

The Committee recommends that the European Union adopt a harmonised policy on disability-inclusive development and establish a systematic approach to mainstream the rights of persons with disabilities in all European Union international cooperation policies and programmes, to appoint disability focal points in related institutions, and take the lead in the implementation of disability-inclusive ‘Sustainable Development Goals’. The Committee further recommends that the European Union identify and put in place mechanisms to disaggregate data on disability to monitor the rights of persons with disabilities in European Union development programmes. The Committee recommends that the European Union interrupt any international development funding that is being used to perpetuate the segregation of persons with disabilities, and reallocate such funding towards projects and initiatives that aim at compliance with the Convention.

IDDC delegation during EU review on the implementation of the UN CRPD

IDDC delegation during a side event on 26 August in Geneva

The way forward

On 10 September, CBM attended the conference on “The implementation of the UN CRPD by the EU: The way forward – Assessing the impact of the UN CRPD Concluding Observations”.

In this conference, persons with disabilities and their representative organisations, as well as other Civil Society Organisations, welcomed the strong language of the Concluding Observations. This will represent a support for both the EU and CSOs in order to advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities.

From CBM, we want to express our gratitude to the UN CRPD Committee Members to encourage the EU to lead on a disability-inclusive approach for the implementation of the Sendai framework on Disaster Risk Reduction as well as the coming Sustainable Development Goals. CBM will follow up on these recommendations, ensuring a comprehensive and coherent implementation in which persons with disabilities will be included in the society as decision-makers.

The EU Constructive Dialogue on the implementation of the CRPD

The 14th session of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) started on 17 August and will end on 4 September. This week, and following the schedule detailed by Diane Kingston previously, the Constructive Dialogue between the European Union (EU) and the Committee Members of the UN CRPD took place.

A delegation of the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC), of which I had the pleasure to be part, was there in order to follow up the activities that IDDC started once the EU launched its initial report on the implementation of the UN CRPD. On Wednesday 26, IDDC organised a side event on “Persons with disabilities in EU External Action: from policy to practice”. The aim of this event was to provide further information on the EU implementation of Article 11 (Humanitarian Aid) and Article 32 (International Cooperation) of the UN CRPD.

Priscille Geiser, chair of IDDC, presented the main results of the IDDC response to the EU List of Issues. She highlighted the lack of participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organisations in the EU decision making, as well as the lack of mainstreaming disabilities in EU development policies and programmes.

Hellen Grace Asamo, Member of the Parliament of Uganda, shared with Committee Members her experience with EU Delegations. Lack of accessibility and participation for persons with disabilities were some of the obstacles raised by Mrs. Asamo. She also mentioned the lack of knowledge of EU Staff on CRPD principles and how to make those principles a reality for persons with disabilities in developing countries. I want to take advantage of this post to thank Mrs. Asamo for her availability and her strong commitment to IDDC, her powerful speech was appreciated by Committee Members, but also by IDDC delegation.

Catherine Naughton, director of the European Disability Forum (EDF), supported the IDDC side event. She offered her expertise on EU International Cooperation by providing information on EU competencies. The EU is the first regional body on signing and ratifying the UN CRPD. The competencies between the EU and its Member States are complex regarding the implementation of several articles of the UN CRPD. However, and as Catherine raised during the IDDC side event, the EU has its own competences on Article 11 and 32.

After these presentations, Committee Members raised their questions, mostly focused on knowing IDDC priorities, concrete information of participation of DPOs in the EU Delegations and the IDDC knowledge on quality monitoring system of EU development policies and programmes.

IDDC also participated in the side event of EDF, which took place on 27 August. The aim of this side event was to offer information to Committee Members before the Constructive Dialogue, in such a way that Committee Member would have all the needed information to asking EU Delegation about the main obstacles on the implementation of the CRPD.

The Constructive Dialogue started on 27 and finished today. Committee Members raised several questions to the EU Delegation on Article 11 and 32. Most of them were related to the EU leadership on the implementation of the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction and the coming framework on Sustainable Development Goals. There was also a concern about the participation of persons with disabilities and their representatives organisations in EU Delegations.

I would like to thank to Committee Members of the UN CRPD for the work they have done on the EU review on the implementation of the CRPD, and especially for supporting the advocacy work of IDDC regarding Humanitarian Aid and International Cooperation. The EU is the largest donor on Official Development Assistance, and the proper implementation of the CRPD by the EU will benefit persons with disabilities around the world. We are looking forward to having the Concluding Observations, and to working for equal opportunities for all people wherever they live.

Getting ready for the last step on the EU review of the implementation of the CRPD

The European Union (EU) signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2011. As a State Party, the EU published its initial report on the implementation of the CRPD in June 2014. After this initial report, Committee Members published a List of Issues by which further information on specific articles was asked, and the EU replied to this List of Issues in June 2015. The last step of this review will end in September, with the adoption of the Concluding Observations that will encourage the further implementation of the CRPD by the European Union.

Persons with disabilities and their representative organisations are encouraged to participate in the review process by submitting supportive documentation and by participating in the CRPD sessions through side events. CBM, as member of the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC), was involved in the process of the EU review. CBM has also supported the work of the European Disability Forum (EDF) as the umbrella organisation of persons with disabilities in the European Union.

Why it is important to follow this review?

The EU is the first regional body on signing and ratifying the UN CRPD. In addition, it is the largest donor on International Cooperation and one of the most influential stakeholders at International fora. By supporting a disability-inclusive Development Cooperation, the EU can promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities in society all around the world.

What did we do so far?

What are the next steps?

The 14th session of the UN CRPD will take place from 17th August to 4th September. On 26th August, CBM as member of IDDC, will organise a side event in which Priscille Geiser (Chair of IDDC) and Hellen Grace Asamo (Member of the Parliament of Uganda) will participate. This event will also count on the participation and support of EDF. In addition, CBM will also participate in the side event organised by EDF on 27th August.

CBM will advocate for the inclusion of Article 11 and Article 32 in the Concluding Observations. This will strengthen the EU advocacy work in the future years, and will promote a disability-inclusive approach to EU External Actions.