NEWS: US Secretary of State Clinton on International Disability Rights

Posted on 25 February 2009. Filed under: Human Rights, News, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

This was from a State Department town hall meeting on February 4, see:

QUESTION: Good afternoon, Madame Secretary. It’s an honor to be working under your leadership, and I look forward to the challenges that you present. My name is Stephanie Ortoleva. I work in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

I basically wanted to ask you a question about what do you think can be the role that we can play, which you’ve illuminated – you’ve given us a little bit of illumination on that – but also what role can our colleagues who work in women’s rights organizations and disability rights organizations, what role can those colleagues play in supporting you in your efforts to advance the rights of women and the rights of people with disabilities as part of an integral part of United States foreign policy?

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a wonderful question. I thank you for it. You know, I think it was 1997, I came to this auditorium, the Dean Acheson Auditorium, with Madeleine Albright, who was Secretary of State, and addressed a large crowd like this about the commitment that the Clinton Administration had to including women as an integral part of foreign policy, not as an afterthought, not as an adjunct, but in recognition of the fact that we know from a myriad of studies and research that the role of women is directly related to democracy and human rights. And I feel similarly about people with disabilities.
It’s important to recognize that expanding the circle of opportunity and increasing the democratic potential of our own society, as well as those across the world, is a continuing process of inclusion. And I look forward to working on behalf of the rights of women and people with disabilities, and others as well, as we pursue our foreign policy. Because I think it sends a clear message about who we are as a people, the evolution that we have undergone.

I remember as First Lady traveling to many countries that had no recognition of the rights of people with disabilities. They were literally warehoused, often in the most horrific conditions. There were no laws. There were no requirements for education or access. And it struck me then and – we’ve made some progress, but insufficient. It certainly is part of my feeling now that we have to always be hoping and working toward greater inclusion as a key part of what our values are and what we believe democracy represents. So I’m going to look to working with those of you in the Department and at USAID and with our allies and friends outside who have carried on this work over the years. And you can count on my commitment to you on that.

I first received this quote via Joan Durocher.

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NEWS: Bangladesh Women with Disabilities Hold National Dialogue

Posted on 16 December 2008. Filed under: News, South Asian Region, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Press Release on “National Dialogue on the Rights of Women with Disabilities”
A “National Dialogue on the Rights of Women with Disabilities” was held at the Dhaka Press Club VIP Lounge in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 27 November 2008 between 10.00 am to 01.00 pm. The conference was well attended, with over 120 participants, from a wide range of backgrounds— individuals living with disabilities and their families, political leaders, foreign mission/high commission representatives, National/International NGO representatives, providers of disability and social support services. A Number of important government officials and media personnel were also present. The conference opened with a welcoming address from Mr. Abdus Sattar Dulal, the founder and Executive Director of BPKS, the sponsoring agency for the event. Ashrafun Nahar, Coordinator of the Women with Disabilities Network at BPKS presented the key note paper for the program. Also addressing the participants were Mr. Bill Winkley, Executive Director, One Family International and Charles Whitley, First Secretary of the European Commission to Bangladesh, Kamar Munir, Joint Secretary and Alimusshan, Additional Secretary, NGO affairs Buroue. The program was organized by BPKS, with support from the European Union. Mr Rezul Karim, Secretary for Forest and Environment Ministry of Bangladesh spoke as chief guest that we should do our duty properly concerning WWDs right and they should included in mainstream development process strongly. They are the part of our society and nation also.

Information was also provided about the situation for Women with Disabilities, their needs and their rights. The objective of the dialogue was to provide an opportunity for participants to learn about the complex issues facing WWDs at the individual, social and national levels.

The Dialogue resulted in the generation of a number of key recommendations in relation to Women with disabilities and;
• Women’s Development policy
• Women Rights
• Accessible environment
• Education
• Employment and Economic independence
• Political empowerment
• Economical participation
• Justice in relation to violence against women

Established in 1985, BPKS works all over the country. Nationally and internationally, BPKS provides information, guidance and support in forming representative disabled people’s organizations and promoting the self confidence and capacity building of individuals and groups at the grassroots level. It is replicating its own approach, called PSID (Persons with Disability Self Initiative to Development) to build the self-reliance and strength of persons with disabilities. BPKS networks with a variety of other agencies to motivate persons with disabilities so that maximum development impact can be achieved. With the support of its donors, BPKS works improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities throughout the country. To find out more about the work of BPKS and how you can get involved, please visit or call 880-2-2892 3915.

Recommendations on the Rights of Girls and Women with Disabilities

For girls and women with disabilities in Bangladesh to live life with dignity, the following recommendations for action are made;
1. Barriers should be removed so that women with disabilities can access the justice system when crimes or incidents of discrimination are committed against them.
2. Perpetrators of crimes against women should be appropriately trialed and punished and where a crime results in disability, the victim should have access to rehabilitation services and due compensation.
3. Women with disabilities should have access to vocational training programs that take into account their skills and abilities as well as their support needs.
4. Girls and women with disabilities should have access to affordable education. They should also be provided with assistive devices to assist in their social integration and their learning. More scholarships should also be available to support girls with disabilities from poor family backgrounds.
5. Girls and women with disabilities should be actively encouraged to participate in cultural, artistic and sporting activities.
6. Vocational skills training should be provided to women with disabilities so that they may participate more competitively in the labor market.
7. Women with disabilities should have access to appropriate employment that matches their skill and education level. Further job opportunities should be created and current employment quotas should be preserved and adhered to.
8. Based on assessment of need, girls and women with disabilities should be provided with assistive devices to assist them in activities of daily living.
9. Women holding positions of leadership in political parties or other organizations should be supported to maintain their roles in the event that they should become disabled.
10. Quota systems prioritizing employment of women with disabilities should be more widely applied to the labor market.
11. All girls and women with disabilities should have access to affordable and appropriate health care services.
12. All new built environments, including cyclone shelters should be accessible to women with disabilities and those that are not should be modified to accommodate them.
13. Women’s participation in agriculture, fisheries, livestock and forestation sectors should be actively encouraged and likewise, those sectors should also be encouraged to involve women.
14. Publicity in the media that portrays women in an undignified or disempowering manner should be stopped. The media should be encouraged to portray women in ways that demonstrate their contribution to society, their abilities, their power and their agency.
15. Women with disabilities should have equal access to skills training in the mass communication sector so that they can participate more widely in television, radio and print media.
16. Women with disabilities should be actively encouraged and supported to participate in the Women’s Development Implementation and Evaluation Committee.
17. Women with disabilities should be actively encouraged and supported to participate in district and Upazila level committees.
18. Women with disabilities should be actively encouraged and supported to participate in grassroots organizations.
19. The needs and rights of women with disabilities should be incorporated into the work plans and schedules of Government Ministries, National planning bodies, as well as International and National NGOs.


20. All women throughout the country should have access to quality pre and post natal maternal care and additional support should be available for families where there is a child with a disability. Maternity leave should also be more widely available and extended to six months.
21. WWDs should have greater access to public transport. This should be guaranteed in law, but also addressed through a public awareness raising campaign for the general public.
22. Awareness raising campaigns are also needed to help address the widespread discrimination faced by WWDs. This should also focus on changing attitudes amongst men.
23. Awareness raising campaigns are also needed to encourage families to support their girls with disabilities to attend school.
24. A national survey is needed on the situation of people with disabilities throughout the country. This is essential to assist in district and National level planning processes.
25. A new act is needed for WWD’s and PWDs.
26. Fruitful counseling needed for PWDs and WWDs.
27. Role of media in raising awareness and educating the community should be strengthened.
28. Independent hospital for acid burned women is needed.
29. Day long consultation meeting for Govt. And NGO institute about PWDS rights and needs.

The press release and set of recommendations was recently circulated by Bangladesh Protibandhi Kallyan Somity (BPKS).

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TRAINING: Short Human Rights Courses

Posted on 15 February 2008. Filed under: Announcements, East Asia Pacific Region, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Education and Training Opportunities, Human Rights, Middle East and North Africa, Opportunities, South Asian Region, Sub-Saharan Africa Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

People interested in taking courses on human rights may wish to consult a
recently updated page that lists more than 60 short courses and summer schools from 2008 to 2009. Some are very general introductions. Others are very specialized courses on indigenous peoples, discrimination, women’s rights, and more. Courses are available in locations around the world, including Africa, Europe, the Americas, Asia, and the Middle East. All these can be found at the web site.

Idowu Ajibade, from Nigeria, who did the hard work of updating this page. She has just joined Human Rights Tool’s small team of dedicated volunteers.

Some very interesting courses that Human Rights Tools would like to highlight:

1. CLOSING SOON: Monitoring economic, social and cultural rights. The Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies in Geneva (IHEID), in cooperation with HURIDOCS, is organizing a new course on monitoring and documenting economic, social and cultural rights. It will take place in Geneva, 5 – 9 May 2008. This exciting and much-needed course will be timed to match the second week of the ESC Committee, so you should be able to attend both with the same plane ticket! There are still a few slots for paying participants, but you must apply before 3 March 2008.

2. CLOSING SOON: Video advocacy course. The Video Advocacy Institute, the first of its kind, is an innovative program that trains human rights defenders to successfully integrate video advocacy into their social change campaigns. When: July 19 – August 2 2008, in Montreal, Canada. Application deadline is 2 March 2008.

3. CLOSING SOON: Transitional justice francophone Rabat fellowship program. Transitional justice refers to a range of approaches that societies undertake to reckon with legacies of widespread or systematic human rights abuse as they move from a period of violent conflict or oppression towards peace and democracy. The International Center for Transitional Justice’s francophone Rabat fellowship program will be running from May 2nd to the 25th. It runs for 10 weeks and ICTJ takes in charge the full cost of participation of each participant (including the visa and airfare). Application deadline is 25 February 2008.

4. Justice sector reform, Human rights fieldwork IHRN is organizing two courses. The first is entitled “Justice Sector Reform: Applying Human Rights Based Approaches” and will take place at the National University of Ireland, in Maynooth. The dates are from 16 to 20 June 2008, and the application deadline is 2 May 2008.

The second IHRN course is entitled “Human Rights Fieldwork – Principles, Strategies and Skills” will be held in the same location, from 26 October to 2 November 2008.

See the full listing of short courses and summer courses at:

We Can Do first found this listing on the Adhoc_IDC email list. People can join this email-based discussion group for the International Disability Caucus on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for free.

This article is cross-posted at the RatifyNow web site with permission of We Can Do editor. RatifyNow is an organization working to maximize the number of countries that sign, ratify, and implement the international disability rights treaty, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Also at We Can Do: catch up with the news; explore resources, toolkits, or funding and fellowship opportunities that might be helpful for your organization; find research, reports, papers, or statistics; or look up conferences, events, call for papers, or education/training opportunities.

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This blog post is copyrighted to We Can Do ( Currently, only two web sites have on-going permission to syndicate (re-post) We Can Do blog posts: and If you are reading this anywhere OTHER THAN We Can Do, BlogAfrica, or RatifyNow, then you are most likely reading a web site that regularly plagiarizes the work of other people without their permission.

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CALL FOR PROPOSALS: Forum on Women’s Rights and Development

Posted on 16 December 2007. Filed under: Announcements, Call for Papers, Events and Conferences, Human Rights, Opportunities, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The 11th AWID International Forum on Women’s Rights and Development

The Power of Movements

November 14-17, 2008
Cape Town, South Africa

(Click here to download the PDF of the full Call for Proposals)

From November 14-17, 2008, up to 1,500 women’s rights activists from around the world will gather in Cape Town, South Africa to debate and strategize about how to build stronger women’s movements globally. The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) invites you to contribute to this urgent discussion by submitting a proposal to organize a session at the 11th AWID forum: The Power of Movements.

We Can Do readers will note that this forum is not specifically focused on disability issues. However, it would be an opportunity for Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) and other interested parties to introduce topics of relevance to movements among women with disabilities in developing countries. We Can Do readers may also wish to consider submitting proposals for sessions on including women with disabilities among the wider women’s movements generally. You could also explore how to build bridges between women’s movements and disability movements, or explore what lessons each movement has to learn from the other.

Session proposals should consider one of the following questions:

Understanding social movements and collective power

  • What is a movement and what is movement building? What are the diverse ways in which movements can be built?
  • What are the strengths and limitations of movements? How do you recognize a movement in decline?
  • What role does constituency building play in movements? How do you build constituencies?
  • What makes a movement “feminist”, and how do its character, approaches and strategies differ from other movements, even if they are led and constituted by women?

Unpacking the architecture of feminist and women’s movements

  • What kinds of organizational structures have evolved through time to successfully support feminist and women’s movements? What other structures do we need to strengthen or build in order to build up the institutional capacity and impact of women’s movements?
  • What role (formal and informal) do organizations play in movements? How can the relationship between women’s organizations and movements be understood?
  • What forms of organizing have appeared in recent years, both in women’s movements and in other social movements? What can we learn from these forms, and what other forms do we still need to develop?

Challenges to effective movement building work

  • What are the key obstacles to movement building today? What are some innovative and effective responses to these obstacles?
  • How can we strengthen and build new and innovative leadership styles and models that contribute to movement building? Which models obstruct or impede movement building?
  • How do we deal collectively and constructively with the politics and tensions within our movements over issues such as over-specialization, North-South/East-West tensions, unequal access to resources, leadership, succession, competition, etc.?
  • What are the movement building challenges faced by social movements in areas or countries under occupation, armed conflict or war? What are examples of effective ways to support their efforts? What are alternatives to movement building in countries where social movements are routinely targeted with threats and intimidation?

Overcoming fragmentation and building inclusive movements

  • How do we build more inclusive movements? What mistakes have we made in the past, and how do avoid them going forward? What have been key lessons learnt in dealing with issues such as class, race, age, religion, ethnicity and other conditions in trying to build inclusive movements?
  • How do we overcome the fragmentation and overspecialization in our movements-e.g. the increasing specialization on particular issues, sectors or themes-to build bridges, common political agendas and shared strategies?
  • How can we build better linkages and do more effective strategizing across levels of activism-e.g., between those doing grassroots work and those doing advocacy at the public-policy level?
  • What other linkages do we urgently need to build, and how do we build them?

Building sustainable, multi-generational movements

  • What are the diverse needs and contributions of different generations of women, and how can we draw upon them to create stronger and more sustainable movements?
  • How can multi-generational dialogues work to strengthen our movements? What are some good experiences of such dialogues and what impacts-good or bad-have they had?
  • How can women’s movements build spaces that significantly incorporate and support-rather than tokenize-young women’s contributions to gender equality and women’s rights struggles?
  • How do we create more sustainable models of activism? How do we renew and sustain our movements and ourselves (and each other)?

Building effective alliances with and learning from other social movements

  • How do we move beyond women’s movements to identify, build and expand solidarities and collective actions with other social movements – and why should we do so? What is the cost of remaining insular?
  • In working with other social movements, where do we draw the line between strategic compromise and marginalization of a women’s rights agenda?
  • What are other movements doing right? What can we learn from them?
  • What have been some organizational experiences in local, national, regional and global joint work with members of other social movements your organization has had? Tell us about your challenges and achievements.

Mobilizing resources for movement building

  • What does funding for movement building look like? Are there any specific examples of experiences that demonstrate how this might be done in an effective way?
  • How does the way in which money is given by donors support or undermine movement building work? What changes are needed in donor policies and strategies to strengthen women’s movements?
  • What changes do we need to make in how we mobilize resources for movement building work? What are the successful strategies that we can learn from?
  • How do we expand the resources for our movement building and for our work in general?

Measuring the success of movements

  • How do we know when we’ve achieved our goals? What constitutes “success”? And how do we measure our impact?
  • What kinds of evaluation methodologies contribute to movement building? How can we use the data from these methodologies to strengthen our movement building work?
  • How do we capture and evaluate the movement building aspects of our work? What are some examples of innovative indicators and evaluation frameworks?

New directions in movement building

  • What new tools, processes, methodologies and innovations are available for movement building? What are their benefits as well as some of their pitfalls?
  • What new language, terminology and ideas around women’s rights can we build that are accessible, make sense to and motivate larger numbers of women, and will increase our political impact? What are other innovative ways of reaching out to the broader public and having greater societal impact?
  • What are some innovative ways that movements can deal effectively with emerging challenges, such the rise of religious fundamentalisms, the potential abuses of new technologies, the feminization of HIV and AIDS, the emerging environmental crisis, etc.?

The Power of Movements

Submit your proposal online at

Email or call AWID for more information or a
Word version/hard copy of the application form
+1 416 594 3773

JANUARY 28, 2008

Are you a person from a developing country who would need funding in order to attend this or other conferences? Learn about possible limited funding sources for participating in conferences at:

We Can Do learned of this opportunity through contacts at Women Leaders at Mobility International USA (MIUSA). Most of the text in this announcement originates with AWID, except for the paragraph targeted at We Can Do readers.

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