An immensely successful advocacy week is how we would describe our work in Geneva with our networks and allies. Now we were waiting and waiting to hear the decision and recommendations of the CRPD committee members. As we mentioned we were advocating for rights of women and girls with disabilities in all spheres of life: education, livelihoods, access, health, legal capacity, right to family and community, and freedom from violence and abuse. In a way we wanted to center the attention on the invisibility of women with disabilities and their issues in data, policy, laws, and other physical and social spaces. And therefore, after contributing to two written submissions, and drafting some strong recommendations for the committee to understand what we want, we were in Geneva, before the India review, organising two private briefings with the committee members and meeting several key committee members who were extremely responsive and supportive to issues and needs of women and girls with disabilities in India.
In the last week of September, we saw the results of our hard work. A document of concluding recommendations that was not just only inclusive of us - women with disabilities and our issues, but shined the spotlight on us. The CRPD committee strongly recommended to secure our rights and ensure we are living a life free of violence and abuse; they recommended to create access for us and directed that we be included; they reminded that we have a right to family and community and recommended to ensure that we have support to exercise our legal capacity.
With this we knew that our work was not over; in fact the work had only begun. We continue our work collectively with our networks and coalitions to bring a change. For this the two clear steps for us are awareness and advocacy and we vouch to carry all of it forward.
As part of women with disabilities India network we organised the first follow up dissemination meeting on Oct 21, 2019 in New Delhi. Among those who attended, there were women with diverse disabilities, disabled People’s organisations, women’s rights groups and activists, researchers lawyers and others. the discussions brought to light the CRPD process and the issues highlighted and the concluding recommendations received.
The diverse yet cozy group of 45 individuals then took some of these concluding recommendations to prioritise the issues to be worked on and mapped an action plan to bring the change. Commitments ranged from supporting further advocacy, to translations and dissemination of rights and recommendations, to trainings for different stakeholders from governments to medical professionals, to actors in the justice system.
Our advocacy has only begun post CRPD recommendations and we hope to take it forward individually through our work and collectively through the networks and coalitions we are a part of, and last but not the least with the allies we work with.
Rising Flame Team