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Bridging the Gap presents its latest study on the participation of organisations of people with disabilities

Screenshot of a webinar slide showing a diagram

On 28 April, Bridging the Gap held the webinar ‘The Unsteady Path – Towards Meaningful Participation of Organisations of Persons with Disabilities’ to share the results of its latest study and the knowledge generated around the concept of “meaningful participation” of the Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs), analyse the barriers and challenges they face to fully achieve engagement in decision-making processes at State level, as well as the role of international cooperation in this process.

The session was conducted by the author of the study, Alexandre Cote, who presented the methodology, results and recommendations of the research, encouraging the debate among a wide audience including development cooperation practitioners at all levels, OPDs and national institutions of the partner countries of Bridging the Gap II (Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Paraguay and Sudan).

The principle of participation in public life is established in article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirmed in article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Likewise, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognises participation as both a general obligation and a cross-cutting issue. Indeed, it enshrines the obligation of States parties to closely consult and actively involve persons with disabilities (art. 4 (3)) and the participation of persons with disabilities in the monitoring process (art. 33 (3)) as part of a wider concept of participation in public life.

Notwithstanding the legal obligations for the State parties to the Convention, persons with disabilities and their representative organisations have historically been kept away from decision-making mechanisms and still are seldom consulted in the planning and monitoring decisions that affect their lives.

In this context, international cooperation is essential for strengthening the capacity of OPDs and, therefore, Bridging the Gap has included in its knowledge management strategy the realisation of a study to assess the understanding of “meaningful participation” from an OPDs’, as well as government and donors’ perspectives in the project’s partner countries.

The research, supported by the experts Janina Arsenjeva (Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Sudan) and Magdalena Orlando (Ecuador, Paraguay), also address the extent to which governments create an enabling environment for meaningful participation of OPDs and the current practices in terms of participation; the different types of relationships between Government and OPDs in their path towards achieving meaningful participation of persons with disabilities, and donors and international development agencies contribution in enabling meaningful representation OPDs.