Risnawati Utami is a former member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the body of independent experts which monitors implementation of the Convention by the States Parties. She was the first candidate to be nominated by the Government of the Republic of Indonesia to be part of this committee. Elected in June 2018, Risnawati will serve a four-year term from 2019 to 2022.
Risnawati is the executive director of Perkumpulan OHANA, a non-profit organisation in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. OHANA is dedicated to strengthening the rights of people with disabilities to enhance their political power and assuring access to educational opportunities. She led the Indonesian Consortium for Disability Rights, with 45 organisational members representing eight provinces in Indonesia, to advocate for the local and national implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2010. In 2022 during the Indonesia G20 Presidency, she was elected as Sous Sherpa Civil20 Indonesia to work together with Civil20 Leaders in Indonesia to promote human rights based approach into international cooperation and development programmes.
She is an internationally recognized speaker, trainer, and lecturer on the intersection of disability and gender, public health, social protection policies, and wheelchair provision system. She actively promotes the inclusion of persons with disabilities, in the Agenda 2030/Sustainable Development Goals to ensure compliance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and to ensure that no one is left behind in national and local development plans.
In 2017, she received the International Advocate Award from the United States International Council on Disabilities. As a Ford Foundation International Fellow, in 2008, she received a Master’s degree in International Health Policy and Management from Brandeis University in Massachusetts, USA. In 1997, she received a Bachelor of Law from the University of Sebelas Maret in Indonesia.
A wheelchair user since she was 4 years old due to sequels of polio, Risnawati is committed to challenging societal barriers and prejudices against people with disabilities and to empowering women and children with disabilities so that all persons with disabilities can participate in society, enjoy equal rights, and be treated with dignity.