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USICD Attends InterAction Conference Advocating for Inclusive Development and Emergency Response

August 10, 2011

Greetings from the InterAction Forum 2011! This is the major gathering of development and relief NGOs in the United States. I am honored to be here representing USICD, to learn and to advocate for greater disability inclusion and access in the important work these organizations do around the world to lift communities out of poverty, solve the challenges of natural and man-made disasters, and to build stable societies. I am even prouder to be here with several USICD members: Mobility International USA, Perkins International School for the Blind, and CBM International, as well as our colleagues from the U.S. government, Judy Heumann from the Department of State and Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo from USAID. Together, this community of disability advocates is making a profound impact on the work of diverse organizations, and on the world!

Today, on the first day of the Forum, during the opening plenary session, the InterAction Community bestowed the annual Disability Inclusion Award on two globle NGOs: the International Rescue Committee and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems. Read on to learn why!

  • The Disability Inclusion Award recognizes member agencies that have worked towards greater disability inclusion in programs and management and expanding leadership opportunities for people with disabilities. The award recognizes our own community’s innovative efforts to promote disability inclusion as a human rights issue. This year, the award was given to:
  • International Foundation for Electoral Systems(IFES) has been selected to receive the 2011 Disability Inclusion Award for their work promoting the electoral and political rights of people with disabilities. Through their efforts, they have increased voter participation, mobilized voters and increased the capacity of disabled people’s organizations to promote the rights of people with disabilities. Replicating their success, IFES has now implemented disability inclusive programming in more than 30 countries around the world. IFES strives to include a disability perspective in the design and implementation of all international programs and DC-based organizational practices. They implement inclusive polices and take a proactive approach to hiring people with disabilities. IFES has demonstrated a long-term commitment to disability inclusion as a cross cutting issue and actively involved people with disabilities and disabled people’s organizations throughout the process.
  • International Rescue Committee(IRC), on behalf of its work conducted by the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), has been selected to receive the 2011 Disability Inclusion Award. WRC has been at the forefront of putting disability issues on the humanitarian agenda. The vision that guides their work is a world in which people with disabilities participate fully in community decision making, have safe and equal access to humanitarian assistance, and are included in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of humanitarian programs. After conducting research, WRC released a free report and resource kit, Disabilities Among Refugees and Conflict-affected Populations. It was the first comprehensive report to document the isolation and neglect of the majority of persons with disabilities in humanitarian settings. In addition, after the earthquake in Haiti, WRC sent a team to conduct disability inclusive trainings for more than 100 service providers. WRC is now examining their entire program portfolio and working with IRC to develop an action plan for strengthening disability inclusion in their programs.

Congratulations IFES and IRC. We are proud of you!

On the final day of the Forum, this Friday, IFES will join USICD, MIUSA, and Disability Rights International in a panel workshop I will moderate:

Picture of the panelists sitting at a table

Susan Sygall, Andrea Shettle, Chad Vickery, David Morrissey, Eric Rosenthal

Transforming and Advancing Disability Civil Society through Knowledge Dissemination, Organizational Development, and Legal Mechanisms
Representatives from several InterAction member organizations will share their experiences in fostering disability civil society in developing countries. Panelists and the moderator will also share insights on opportunities for other organizations to play a stronger role in strengthening disability civil society, particularly in light of efforts to ratify and implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in nations around the world. The CRPD, adopted by the United Nations in 2006, introduced a new international standard of inclusion and participation for people with disabilities worldwide. Organizations dedicated to human rights, democracy and governance, and development have become increasingly involved in efforts to advance disability civil society in developing countries.

Moderator: David Morrissey, Executive Director, USICD
Eric Rosenthal, Founder and Executive Director, Disability Rights International
Andrea Shettle, Program Manager, Global Disability Rights Library
Susan Sygall, CEO, MIUSA
Chad Vickery, Regional Director, IFES Europe and Asia

I will try to post further news from this exciting event as they occur, and hope to receive some photos I can post too.

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