Encouraging Disability Rights Discussions between Government Agencies

A young woman using a wheelchair speaks into a microphone at a South Asia conference.
  • The Accomplishment

  • What Worked

  • About the Author

Through careful planning and advocacy efforts, disability rights activists in South Asia collaborated with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) to successfully encourage government agencies from eight different countries to begin talking about disability rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities.

The disability rights activists first met in Colombo, Sri Lanka while attending a regional conference on political rights for people with disabilities. More than 80 people participated from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The participants came from a variety of backgrounds, including disabled persons’ organizations (DPOs), election organizations, media groups, and international organizations.

During the conference, participants agreed on the need to support political rights for people with disabilities. They also developed a list of recommendations for the Forum for South Asian Election Management Bodies (FEMBoSA), a network of government organizations that plan and manage elections in South Asian countries.

At the annual FEMBoSA meeting, disability rights representatives from the regional conference spoke with the members of FEMBoSA and encouraged them to support the recommendations. After the members of FEMBoSA discussed the recommendations and the need to support people with disabilities, they then decided to adopt language on disability-inclusive elections in their Colombo Resolution. They also agreed to develop common minimal standards for disability-inclusive elections in all South Asian countries.