The South Asian Workshop on “Advancing the Rights of Women with Disabilities Through Networking and Capacity Building for Advocacy”, was organized by the National Federation of the Disabled in Nepal and Abilis Foundation, in Katmandu, Nepal in July 2014.
The South Asian Women with Disabilities Network (SAWDN) is a collaborative loose (unregistered) forum among Women with Disabilities in South Asian Region for the promotion of rights and opportunity of persons with disabilities in the region especially women with disabilities. It is a regional level Network established by Women with Disabilities who have been contributing in disability sector Nationally, Regionally and Internationally.
The existence of Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), 2006 has changed the landscape of the disability worldwide; however the issues and concern of women with disabilities in developing countries including South Asia do not seem to be adequately addressed. Thus, this network is designed / established as a common forum to advocate and lobby for the promotion of rights of women with disabilities as envisioned in the CRPD. Thus the Network will contribute for the effective implementation of the CRPD to promote and strengthen rights and opportunity for women with disabilities in these regional-countries.
Several efforts are made to implement the CRPD and to promote and strengthen rights of women with disabilities worldwide including in South Asian countries. However, the rights and issues of women with disabilities in South Asian region do not seem to be adequately addressed. Some policies, laws, Acts at national level are amended and enacted but the concerns of women with disabilities are left behind in these respective countries.
South Asian Countries are organized under a regional organization i.e. South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC), however there is not such common agendas and forum for joint advocacy and lobby for the promotion of rights of persons with disabilities so far in this region. It has been strongly realized that Regional body should contribute in promoting rights of persons with disabilities in line with the CRPD. Further, a functional network of the right-holders including women with disabilities is expected to be established to promote disability rights and CRPD in the region. Thus, this network targets for regional collaboration and cooperation of the South Asian countries to empower and development of the women with disabilities and to eliminate all kinds of violence and discrimination against women with disabilities through consolidated effort. The network is expected to contribute to break the barrier faced by women with disabilities in South Asian Region. Further, it works for the promotion and protection of rights of women with disabilities as envisioned in the CRPD. It will work as a change agent to bring quality of life of women with disabilities in South Asian Region in the long term. Thus, in order to establish and run the network formally, organized this workshop in Nepal as per following broader outline.
The overall objective of the workshop was to promote rights of women with disabilities in South Asian Region in line with the CRPD. The specific objectives of the workshop included the following:
- To establish the network formally, through a declaration by leaders of women with disabilities of South Asian Region.
- To develop and adopt objectives and working methodology of the Network in promoting and advancing the rights of Women with Disabilities in South Asia region.
- To develop a capacity building mechanism and advocacy strategies of the Network to promote CRPD and rights of women with disabilities in the region.
- To develop framework / action plan for mainstreaming disability into development in South Asian region
- A functional regional network was established to promote the rights of persons with disabilities especially women with disabilities as envisioned by the CRPD.
- A concrete document incorporating objectives and area of work of the organization was developed and adopted.
- A way forward for capacity building of women with disabilities and advocacy strategy of the Network was adopted.
- A joint action plan to mainstream disability into human rights and development agendas in South Asian Region was developed and adopted.
Ms. Manique gunaratne was a resource person and conducted one session on “Include women with disabilities in the development agenda with regard to United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Incheon Strategy”.