Handicap International provides support to funding bodies, governments, and NGOs to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in society, by building their capacities in the field of inclusive education, inclusive employment, humanitarian response, functional rehabilitation, social inclusion, and more.
The organization supports the development of disabled people’s organizations (DPOs) to ensure they effectively advance their rights. Handicap International has formed partnerships with more than 400 DPOs locally, nationally, and regionally. The organization is currently implementing 40 projects to help them organize their efforts, conduct advocacy, and monitor the advancement of the rights of people with disabilities.
The over-arching principle guiding Handicap International's advocacy is to consistently call for an inclusive development, in order to advance the rights and address the needs of persons with disabilities. But disability inclusive development is an extensive field of work. As a result, Handicap International’s advocacy team works closely with the Technical Resources Division to focus on the most relevant topics and the related advocacy opportunities. The aim is to concentrate our efforts on issues where our technical expertise is recognized and valued, and where our advocacy can have the greatest influence and lead to effective policy change.
With the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) as an overarching instrument, Handicap International seek to influence the major international frameworks and national frameworks put into place to ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities in development strategies, plans and policies. Handicap International advocates on disability-inclusive development through the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC), and contributed with other members of IDDC to promote inclusive Sustainable Development Goals.
The World Bank defines inclusive development as the result of a combination of principles and processes:
- Inclusion: persons with disabilities should be accepted as equal partners in development and included as full participants in all development activities
- Equity: persons with disabilities should enjoy equitable access to the benefits resulting from development activities. In addition, development activities should promote non-discrimination and equal opportunities for persons with disabilities to participate in every facet of life - civil, political, economic, social and cultural
- Access: persons with disabilities should enjoy access to the built environment, transportation, information, and communications infrastructure, so that they can participate in all aspects of life and thus enjoy the full range of human rights.
Inclusive Development is therefore the process of ensuring that all marginalized/excluded groups are included in the development process.
People with disabilities account for 15% of the world’s population, or 1 billion people, according to the World Report on Disability. Eighty percent of people with disabilities live in developing countries. According to World Bank estimates, one in five people living in absolute poverty are disabled.
People with disabilities face a multitude of barriers that limit their access to health services, rehabilitation, education, employment, housing, transportation. This exclusion is without question, a major development issue. The eradication of poverty will not be achieved without mainstreaming disability issues in all development policies.
An effective inclusive development policy requires a twin-track approach:
- Ensuring the inclusion of people with disabilities in all development programs at all stages (planning, design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation). This process is often described as ‘mainstreaming’.
- Ensuring the participation of persons with disabilities at the individual level and support for their representative organizations at the collective and systems level for policies changes. The removal of barriers alone will not create inclusion for persons with disabilities. Conditions should be present to foster the individual participation of persons with disabilities from birth on (to develop maximum functioning), and to facilitate the formation of organizations from the community-level upwards. ‘Mainstreaming’ is not the only answer, at the same time there must also be specific focus on people with disabilities and disability issues to enable persons with disabilities to become empowered participants.
Handicap International supports the implementation of inclusive policies in many developing countries, targeting different stakeholders in the process:
- Governments implementing national inclusive public policies and poverty reduction strategy plans
- National or International development NGOs working on all development issues
- International Cooperation agencies, such as the European Union
- United Nations agencies, including PNUD and the Word Bank
Our main partners directly involved in these projects are Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) and disability service providers from government or non government organizations.
Main activities include:
- Raising awareness of policy-makers and decision-makers managers of development organizations
- Training development workers for practices change
- Supporting Disabled People Organizations to advocate for disability-specific and mainstream development policies
- Open a call for proposals to fund pilot projects
- Implement a multi-stakeholder study of existing good practices as the means to develop constructive recommendations for policy-makers and training contents for development workers (see: www.makingitwork-crpd.org)
- Provide advice for including a disability perspective in the monitoring tools of development programs
Handicap International develops this type of project in dozens of countries.
These projects can include interventions at the local level (rural or urban areas) or linked directly with specific projects on inclusive local development.