By Nagase Osamu, Asia Pacific Regional Representative.
Self-advocate Council member from New Zeland, David Corner and self-advocates from Thailand and Myanmar participated at the BRIDGE 2 in Bangkok, Thailand on 5-11 March, 2016. David Corner made a powerful presentation on self-advocacy at this cross-disability training for Southeast Asia. David was supported by Julia Hawkins, staff member of Inclusion International.
International Disability Alliance (IDA) and the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) organized the second module of BRIDGE training on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Southeast Asia. The first module, focusing on the CRPD, took place last year on 29 September- 7 October 2015 in Bangkok.
Participants at this event came from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia as well as from China, India and Pakistan. I continued to serve as a co-facilitator.
Four self-advocates from the region, nominated by Inclusion International, took part as participants. They were Ms. Payanart Sukjaroen and Ms. Phacharin Sujaritwatanasak, self-advocates of Daoru Ang group from Thailand, and Ms. Saw Myintzu and Ms. The Sue Moe, self-advocates of Future Stars group from Myanmar. They also took part in the first module. Myanmar self-advocates were supported by Mr. U Nyunt Aung, Ms. Soe Sanda Lwin and Ms. Phyo Su Moe. They had a strong back-up support by Mr. Bawi Vanni and Ms. Moh Moh in Myanmar.
The presentation by David on 6 March was well received. In fact, participants asked for more opportunity for interaction and another session took place on the following day. Four self-advocates assisted David and more than 10 people joined the extra session.
There was a good peer support among self-advocates. When one self-advocate said:
I feel ashamed that I cannot go out as I wish. I have to depend on the family”.
The other self-advocate from another country responded by saying
There is no need to be ashamed. Share your problems with the public. Then the society will understand the problems”.
The presence and presentation of David certainly helped and encouraged self-advocates.
The training focused on:
- Linking the CRPD and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
- Discussing data,
- Inclusive policy design
- Legal harmonization
- Budget advocacy
The combination of presentations and practical exercises for each topic helped self-advocates to be engaged. The program also included the simulation of CRPD review in Geneva. Self-advocates enjoyed playing the roles of the CRPD committee members and the DPO representatives briefing the committee members.
The participation of self-advocates contributed to the success of the overall training. By making the workshop more inclusive and more participatory, including for self-advocates, the workshop became more effective. Visual materials, including illustrations provided by a professional illustrator who was on site all throughout the first and second module, as well as visual presentations of the group discussions, proved very useful for self-advocates, one of whom did not have an opportunity for education, and other participants. One issue we must keep in mind is that in the cross-disability settings, it is important not to create barriers for blind participants by forgetting their needs for audio information.
I am grateful to the lead facilitators, Mr. Alex Cote of IDA and Ms. Kathy Al Ju’beh of CBM, who worked very closely with self-advocates. CBM and Ms. Ju’beh were particularly helpful, providing support during the module 1 and module 2, assisting Thai self-advocates with their preparation of policy papers, which was the assignment.
As part of the training, Ms. Payanart joined the panel, entitled “cerebrating diversity on the International Women’s Day” at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for the Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) on 8 March 2016. Ms. Payanart talked about sexual violence and involuntary sterilizations of women and girls with intellectual disabilities.
The effective participations of self-advocates in this international workshop was made possible by:
(a) Good and continued support at the national and local levels before, during and after the workshop
(b) Good interpretation into national languages in the easy-to-understand manners.