Mobility International USA worked with Armenian partner organization, “AGATE Rights Defense Center for Women with Disabilities” to support disability rights advocates and allies to influence the content and passage of the “Law of the Republic of Armenia on the Protection of Rights and Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities” (Disability Law).
At the end of 2017, MIUSA and AGATE launched a new initiative working in collaboration with U.S. and Armenian strategists and disability leaders to establish the “Coalition for Inclusive Legal Reform” (CILR) with four working committees to carry out targeted activities.
U. S. legal expert, Mr. John Wodatch, and Former Director of Government Affairs at Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Ms. Patricia Wright, provided ongoing technical support to AGATE and CILR coordinators on:
- Recommendations and technical language for amendments to the Disability Law
- Advocacy strategies to build support for the Disability Law among policy decision-makers
- Advice to government officials on writing regulations and progressive implementation planning
- Public Relations messaging and coalition-building strategies among stakeholder groups
Over the course of 8 months, the CILR mobilized individuals to advocate for their rights, engaged legal experts and disability leaders to advocate with government officials and provided analysis and recommendations for inclusion of rights-based technical language in the Disability Law. CILR advocated directly with Armenia’s Ombudsman, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MOLSA) officials, national political party leaders and members of the Standing Committee on Health and Social Issues in the National Assembly.
Among the coalition’s significant accomplishments, the CILR:
- Held a press conference on “Protection of Rights and Social Inclusion of People with Disabilities: Discussion on the rights-based approach to disability” that was attended by 91 representatives from government, Members of Parliament, foreign Ambassadors, international organizations, DPOs and CSOs, and individuals with disabilities.
- Implemented a media campaign, including broadcast coverage on three national television programs of the high level press conference on the Disability Law and publication of 15 print articles.
- Created, printed and disseminated 500 copies of an informational guidebook on disability and human rights for use during coalition meetings and during the high-level press conference.
- Conducted 20 advocacy meetings with government officials, policy makers and international delegations in Armenia to promote the Disability Law.
- Testified at Parliamentary Committee meetings, public hearings and press conferences to advocate for the strengthening and adoption of the Disability Law.
- Drafted and submitted 11 amendments to strengthen enforcement mechanisms and bring the Disability Law into compliance with the UNCRPD.
- Planned and coordinated 12 community meetings in different regions of Armenia mobilizing 313 participants.
Government shutdowns and changes in high level government positions derailed passage of the Disability Law scheduled for May 2018. However, the new Prime Minister of Armenia and new Minister of MOLSA are very supportive of incorporating rights-based language and enforcement mechanisms in the law. Armenia is on track to adopt a strong disability law with an implementation plan in the future.
“AGATE Rights Defense Center for Women with Disabilities” was founded by the Executive Director and President, Karine Grigoryan, who is an alum of MIUSA's Women's Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD) in 2006.
These activities are sponsored by the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs through the Fundamental Freedoms Fund.