Asia and the Pacific
The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) published a brochure on its Power to Persuade program to highlight the advocacy successes of Power Persuade alumnae from across South Asia. The brochure was produced ahead of IFES’ South Asia Regional Power to Persuade Virtual Conference, held in March 2021 that brought together nearly 100 women with disabilities who are alumnae of IFES’ Power to Persuade program.
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Empowering Women with Disabilities to Influence Public Policy in South Asia
The International Foundation for Electoral Systems’ (IFES) Power to Persuade: Empowering Women with Disabilities to Influence Public Policy initiative empowers women with disabilities to have a meaningful voice in dialogue and advocacy on public policy. By engaging in interactive activities such as discussions on policy priorities, role-play exercise and advocacy plan development women with disabilities build skills advocate with policymakers, elected officials and other political powerbrokers for reform. IFES’ Power to Persuade training has been implemented in several countries South Asia including Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
This brochure highlights the advocacy successes of the growing South Asia Power Persuade alumnae community.
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“I aim to establish a network of women with disabilities in my union council and aim to raise their voices!” - Hafiza Aroosa Amjad, Power to Persuade alumna, Pakistan
“With my experience of working closely with women with disabilities, I feel that we have to come forward and speak for our rights despite the existing challenges. As the president of the disabled person’s group of Sundar Haraicha Municipality, I am continuously advocating to ensure the rights of women with disabilities.” - Parwati Guragain, Power to Persuade alumna, Nepal
“I have not had the chance to meet other women like me outside of my community circle. Meeting these amazing women gave me more hope and I didn’t feel alone in this journey. I also made some solid contacts that could help influence the change we are trying to bring about, and now I’m working closely with them and I feel our voices have amplified.” - P. Vijayaletchumi, Power to Persuade alumna, Sri Lanka
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Pakistan: Power to Persuade alumnae in Pakistan developed a series of recommendations to advocate with local, provincial and national government officials for the inclusion of women with disabilities in decision-making processes. Alumnae presented their recommendations at provincial and national level policy conferences with government officials. Provincial advocacy groups are working toward the implementation of policies focused on meaningful participation, employment opportunities, accessible healthcare, inclusive education, awareness-raising and accessible infrastructure.
Nepal: Power to Persuade alumnae in Nepal developed a series of recommendations to advocate to all three levels of government for disability and gender-inclusive COVID-19 policies and plans. Alumnae held virtual advocacy meetings with local representatives in all five districts to discuss the work that elected representatives had taken to make their COVID-19 response inclusive of women with disabilities. They have also provided training to women with disabilities to make face masks and hand sanitizers, and are working to develop an easy-to-read guide on COVID-19 prevention.
"As a person with a disability, this training will help me in the field I work. I didn’t have much of a clear idea of advocacy. I have learned a lot of new things through this Power to Persuade training.” - Farzana Akter, Power to Persuade alumna, Bangladesh
Thushari Ganga, a Power to Persuade alumna from Sri Lanka who is Deaf, is developing an awareness program for young girls who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing on safeguarding themselves from sexual harassment, bullying and other types of abuse. Through her advocacy efforts, Ganga has raised awareness with young girls with auditory disabilities about their sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as how to access support services.