International CONFERENCE on Independent Living, Nov 28-29, 2008, Stockholm, Sweden

Posted on 5 September 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Events and Conferences | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Invitation to International Conference
”25 Years Independent Living in Sweden”

Stockholm November 28-29, 2008

How far has the Independent Living Movement come and where are we going? The conference celebrating 25 years of the Independent Living movement in Sweden will evaluate the achievements of our international civil rights movement in Sweden, Europe and other parts of the world and plan for tomorrow.

Together with Judy Heumann and Marilyn Golden, USA, Bente Skansgård, Norway, Kalle Könkkölä, Finland, Shoji Nakanishi, Japan, John Evans, UK, Horst Frehe, Germany, Jos Huys, Belgium, representatives of the Swedish movement and allies in administration, research and politics we will discuss successful Independent Living strategies and examples of good practice in our respective countries and regions, look back at our development and set the course for the future.

In plenary sessions and workshops we will share our experiences in working for de-institutionalization, personal assistance, legislation for non-discrimination and accessibility, and for spreading the Independent Living philosophy and approach to other countries. Have we been able to influence social policy, have we had an impact on society’s and our own view of disabled people, has our work led to concrete improvements in our group’s living conditions? How can we better support each other in our struggle for full citizenship, self-determination and self-respect?

The conference is intended for disabled people and their organizations, service providers, civil servants, politicians, researchers and the general public. Expect to leave the event with new friends, insights and impulses.

Adolf Ratzka, Independent Living Institute

Register with Nicoletta Zoannos at for participation and help in finding hotel accommodations.

For continually updated information about the conference see

We Can Do readers will note that the presenters listed seem to be primarily from developed countries. People from developing countries will want to examine their website and communicate with Nicoletta Zoannos to decide for themselves the extent to which this conference will be relevant to their concerns. (The website, at least, does make some reference to some developing nations.)

Readers might also be interested in reading a paper by Shoji Nakanishi, featured among the presenters at this conference, entitled “Independent Living Movement in Developing Countries.

I received the original announcement for this conference via the IDA_CRPD_Forum listserver and via Ghulam Nabi Nizamani.

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Global Partnership for Disability and Development (GPDD) Holds First Membership Meeting

Posted on 26 May 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Cross-Disability, News, Opportunities, Poverty, Resources | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Washington DC, 9 May 2008

First Membership Meeting of the GPDD in Eschborn, Germany

World leaders from Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America, and Oceania representing civil society organizations, governments, and multilateral agencies including the World Bank and UNESCO unanimously approved a Charter and elected the First Board of Directors for the Global Partnership for Disability and Development (GPDD). Meeting at the headquarters and as the guests of the German Technical Corporation (GTZ) in Eschborn, Germany, the assembled agencies and organizations made a core commitment to a world of inclusive communities where individuals with disabilities regardless of age, gender, or type of disability enjoy their rights and have access to opportunities on an equal basis with others.

With a commitment to partnership to combat the social and economic exclusion and impoverishment of people with disabilities and their families in developing countries worldwide, the GPDD represents an unprecedented alliance of agencies, organizations, and resources to accelerate change within and outside of government that targets development activities to include and promote social and economic rights of individuals with disabilities.

Four years of planning by a Coordinating Task Force culminated in the historical formalization of GPDD with the election of the First Board of Directors in Eschborn, Germany, last Wednesday. The 12 members elected to the Board of Directors are:

  • Mr. Khandaker Jahurul Alam, Asia Pacific Disability Forum
  • Ms. Tanya Barron, Leonard Cheshire Disability
  • Mr. A.K. Dube – African Decade Secretariat (Chair of the GPDD Interim Board)
  • Ms. Sangita Gairola, Representative of the Government of India
  • Ms. Celia Siphokazi Gcaza, African CBR Network (CAN)
  • Mr. Kalle Könkkölä, Disabled Peoples’ International
  • Mr. Rudiger Krech, GTZ
  • Ms. Euphrasia Mbewe, World Federation of the Deaf
  • Mr. James Mwandha, Commonwealth Disabled Peoples’ Forum
  • Mr. Andreas Pruisken, Christian Blind Mission
  • Ms. Indumathi Rao, CBR Network South Asia
  • Dr. William Rowland, World Blind Union

This unique Global Partnership will bring important world attention to the needs and aspirations of people with disabilities in developing countries. The assembled GPDD members agreed on a beginning plan of action to expand the membership base of GPDD, promote data collection and analysis that identifies more accurately the living conditions of and barriers faced by people with disabilities in developing countries; to facilitate information sharing on effective inclusive development policies and programs; to support the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in cooperation with partners and member organizations; and mobilize resources to build the capacity of the GPDD broad constituency through alliances and networks to become a reliable and effective expert disability and development platform.

With support from the World Bank and the governments of Italy, Finland, and Norway as donors to a Multi Donor Trust Fund, the GPDD will bring much needed attention to reduce poverty and eliminate barriers to full social and and economic participation.

For more information about GPDD and how you may become involved, please contact Maria Reina, Executive Director at

Individuals may also contact Maria Reina ( to inquire about subscribing to the free GPDD listserv.

This announcement is slightly modified from text that Maria Reina recently circulated on the GPDD listserv.

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NEWS: World Bank, Syracuse U. Join Forces Against Poverty Among Disabled People

Posted on 2 February 2008. Filed under: Cross-Disability, News, Poverty | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2008

Contact: Jaime Winne Alvarez
Phone: (315) 443-3784
World Bank: Phillip Hay
Phone: (202) 473-1796

Global disability and poverty efforts get key boost from agreement between SU’s Burton Blatt Institute and World Bank

A promising new collaboration between the World Bank and Syracuse University could spur global efforts to reduce poverty for an estimated 400 million people with disabilities living in developing countries. The Burton Blatt Institute: Centers of Innovation on Disability at Syracuse University (BBI) and the World Bank have signed an agreement to support activities of the Global Partnership on Disability and Development (GPDD), an international disability network initiated by the World Bank and committed to promoting inclusive development as a means to achievement of Millennium Development Goals.

Established in 2006 with assistance from the World Bank and set up by a multi-stakeholder task force, the GPDD brings together organizations, government agencies, multinational lenders and research centers focused on reducing the link between disability and poverty, and promoting inclusive development activities. BBI will receive $350,000 from the World Bank’s Development Grant Facility (DGF)—with another $350,000 likely in 2009—to support the growth and organizational development of the GPDD. In turn, the GPDD will share information, expand knowledge, improve public policies and practices, and foster collaboration to improve education and economic opportunity for individuals with disabilities and their families worldwide.

“This is a great honor and unique opportunity for BBI and Syracuse University,” says Peter Blanck, BBI chairman and SU University Professor. “Both BBI and the GPDD share the same mission of advancing the civic, economic and social participation of people with disabilities worldwide. This collaboration and support system will help further accelerate the inclusion of people with disabilities into the social and economic mainstream.”

“This new collaboration will connect the expertise and resources of our Burton Blatt Institute to the GPDD and the World Bank in ways that will promote inclusive economic and social development across the globe,” says SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor.

“Given that people living with disabilities are among the poorest of the poor worldwide, we welcome this agreement with BBI and Syracuse University as another step forward in dismantling the link between poverty and disability,” says Joy Phumaphi, vice president of the World Bank’s Human Development Network. “The social and economic exclusion of people with disabilities in developing countries requires the attention and investment of resources by development institutions, government and nongovernmental organizations.”

Maria Reina has been jointly selected by BBI and GPDD leadership to serve as executive director of the leadership network in an open, international competitive process. Reina, director of international projects at BBI’s Washington, D.C., office since 2006, has diverse experiences working on disability research, advocacy and development work, including an intensive dedication to the United Nations Ad Hoc Committee for the Disability Convention. She previously worked for the Center for International Rehabilitation; the Institute for International Disability Advocacy; the Institute for International Cooperation and Development; the Argentinean Disabled People Organization, Cilsa; and the University Institute San Martin in Rosario, Argentina, where she was an adjunct professor.

“As a person with a disability from Argentina, I have traveled to developing countries and witnessed the physical and attitudinal barriers that diminish full participation and contributions of people with disabilities,” says Reina.

During the next six months, BBI and the GPDD will mobilize disability-led organizations worldwide—in cooperation with governmental and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector—to identify best practice strategies that promote inclusion in economic and social development. Through research, training and community development activities, the GPDD will increase participation of people with disabilities in national poverty reduction efforts in developing countries.

“Improved access to education, health care, technology and transportation are needed to reduce the barriers of stigma and discrimination,” says Kalle Könkkölä, GPDD task force chair.

The World Bank provides critically needed financial and technical assistance to developing countries, and is composed of a number of development institutions owned by 185 member countries, including the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA). The mission of both institutions is to reduce global poverty and to improve living standards of developing countries around the world.

While IBRD focuses on middle income and credit-worthy poor countries, IDA focuses on the poorest countries in the world. The World Bank Group provides loans, interest-free credit and grants to developing countries, and is a knowledge leader in development. For more information, visit

BBI fosters public-private dialogue to advance civic, economic and social participation of persons with disabilities in a global society. BBI takes its name from Burton Blatt (1927–85), a pioneer in humanizing services for people with mental retardation, a staunch advocate of deinstitutionalization, and a national leader in special education. The institute currently has offices in Syracuse, New York City, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Tel Aviv. For more information, visit

For more information on GPDD, contact Reina at (202) 296-2042 or

We Can Do received this press release via the mailing list for the Global Partnership for Disability and Development (GPDD). Individuals can sign up for the GPDD email distribution list for free; follow the link for more details.

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