Advancing disability rights and leadership globally®

Gender, Disability and Development Institute 2016


Global leaders engaged in dialogue about including women and girls with disabilities in development and humanitarian projects around the world.

About GDDI

Co-convening with MIUSA’s signature international exchange program, WILD, the Gender, Disability and Development Institute (GDDI) brings senior-level development professionals together with disabled women leaders from developing countries, all delegates of the WILD program. The event is a unique opportunity to bridge these two communities to engage in direct dialogue about strategies for including women with disabilities in development projects throughout the world.

In 2016, GDDI convened for three nights, August 10-13, in a beautiful, rustic retreat near Eugene, Oregon. Through a variety of inclusive development workshops, topical and regional break-out sessions, and networking activities, 17 representatives of the international development community engaged with 20 delegates of the 2016 WILD cohort.


International development community leaders, including returning as well as first-time participants, represented the U.S. Department of State – Office of Global Women’s Issues, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nations Development Programme, Global Fund for Women, Management Sciences for Health, Peace Corps, Ipas, FHI 360, the Solidarity Center, SPOON Foundation, Women’s Refugee Commission, Women’s Campaign International, and World Vision International – Georgia.

Through their organizations, these leaders work in a variety of world regions and development issues, including civil society, education, economic development, reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, nutrition, emergency response, gender-based violence prevention, and more. What they share in common is a passion to build their capacity to reach women and girls with disabilities in developing countries, who are among the most marginalized.

To help them in their goals, they used their time at GDDI to consult with the 20 WILD disabled women leaders representing disabled people’s organizations (DPOs), NGOs, and government agencies in 20 countries: Armenia, Bangladesh, Botswana, Colombia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Panama, Philippines, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Uruguay, and Vanuatu.

View our photo slideshow below for moments captured at GDDI. Photographs by Darcy Kiefel (Kiefel Photography) and Viktoria Midelauri (World Vision International – Georgia). Photo descriptions available when opened in Flickr.

Going Forward

International development leaders of the 2016 GDDI left the brief but intensive conference with a renewed sense of urgency to create a culture of disability inclusion in their work and in the field, drawing on new ideas, resources and connections.

Here’s what some of them had to say:

“The networks established with MIUSA staff, other resource people, and the WILD delegates will be tremendously useful for my efforts to improve and expand opportunities for people with disabilities to serve as volunteers and work with disabled people’s communities overseas.” – participant from Peace Corps

“This was a wonderful, edifying experience, and I leave feeling that I’ll be a strong advocate and practitioner. I feel a more focused and informed commitment to ensuring disability inclusion in our programs, beyond the general philosophical commitment that I previously held.” – participant from USAID

“Inclusion and accessibility will now be a part of the organizational conversation at many levels. GDDI gave me the knowledge and connections to lobby my organization’s leadership to focus on inclusion.” – participant from Women’s Campaign International

Thank you to our generous sponsors of the 2016 GDDI

Ruby Sponsor: Institute of International Education (IIE)

Gold Sponsor: World Learning

Show your organization’s commitment to equity and inclusion. Contact us for more information about attending or sponsoring a future GDDI.

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The National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange is a project of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, designed to increase the participation of people with disabilities in international exchange between the United States and other countries, and is supported in its implementation by Mobility International USA.

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