Inclusion Africa Self-Advocacy Forum and Board Meeting

4th – 5th December 2015- Blantyre, Malawi

IMG_20151204_115846Inclusion Africa, with support from PODCAM, hosted a sub-regional event on self-advocacy and a board meeting 4 – 5 December 2015, in Blantyre, Malawi. The self-advocacy event was held on 4 December. Strengthening the Voice of Self-Advocates and Families in Africa, drew together more than 20 self-advocates from 7 countries. Including support people, PODCAM Board Chair and IA organizational representatives, more than 50 people participated in the self-advocacy forum.

The purpose of the event was to share information about self-advocacy efforts in those countries – with a particular focus on efforts related to Inclusion Africa’s self-advocacy project supported by the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA) – and how to strengthen the voice of self-advocates in Africa. Additionally, the event supported self-advocates to contribute to Inclusion International’s global strategy on self-advocacy. The Forum was a follow-up of Inclusion self-advocacy regional forum held in Nairobi in April 2015.

Self-advocates from the OSIEA project made presentations and gave feedback on learnings from the national level self-advocacy meetings. Through small group discussions, participants explored the meaning of self-advocacy as a movement for change, what good support mean, how to sustain a strong self-advocacy movement in Africa and the barriers and challenges self-advocates, families and organizations face in building self-advocacy.

Mr.  Michael Chiwalo, Managing Director of FDH Financial Holdings Limited, who was the guest of honour at the event, while addressing the gathering observed that there was a need for the society to deinstitutionalize people with intellectual disabilities beyond just the physical structures and to understand and respect people’s personhood and human rights. He pledged to continue to support PODCAM so that people with disabilities can continue to enjoy their full rights and improve their lives.

During the IA Board meeting held on 5th December, the Board dwelt on the challenges and opportunities for IA in 2016 and how best to position the organization to continue to thrive.

Mr. Jabulane Dikgale recently stepped up as IA interim chair during the General Assembly held in Nairobi and the Board confirmed his position as chair. Fauzia Haji was elected as vice-chair.