In October 2016, RightsNow! representatives traveled to Guatemala to meet with disability rights leaders and other key stakeholders in order to learn about the status of and priorities for greater enforcement of disability rights. Working in close collaboration with Colectivo Vida Independiente de Guatemala, a local cross-disability Disabled People’s Organization (DPO), the RightsNow! team met with a range of stakeholders within the disability sector.
The team held meetings with various leaders active in the disability movement, a rural network of NGOs promoting disability rights and services, representatives of the ministries of education and social development, CONADI (the National Council for the Attention to Persons with Disabilities), members of the legal community, and international development organizations tackling issues related to disability rights in Guatemala.
Priorities that emerged during the visit included:
- The importance of cross-sector alliances and disability-rights advocacy;
- Empowerment training for people with disabilities and their families;
- Inclusive education;
- Anti-discrimination initiatives; and
- The importance of working with local and national government bodies on disability rights issues.
These priorities are significant in terms of the implementation and enforcement of disability rights legislation as 2016 saw the disability community and allies working together to lobby government to review and pass the new Disability Bill 5125. The bill was passed into law in February 2017 and uses a rights-based framework, in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
Later in 2017, a team of U.S. disability rights experts will return to Guatemala to address identified priorities. The team will use U.S. experiences of implementing and enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act to build the knowledge and capacity of DPOs, and support DPO-civil society-government coalitions during this crucial time in Guatemalan disability rights history.
The RightsNow! project aims to strengthen DPOs, build sustainable coalitions, and advance disability rights through enforcement of legislation and other strategies. Read more about the RightsNow! Project and visit the Global Disability RightsNow! website.
For more information, follow MIUSA and the RightsNow! project on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #RightsNow.
Photo Gallery: RightsNow! Guatemala introductory visit, October 2016