Leading for Independent Living: Building Resources and Partnerships for Inclusive Communities in Armenia

A group of women with and without disabilities pose for a group photo in an office
MIUSA Director of Programs, Cindy Lewis, with Agate members in Gyumri, Armenia
Fostering the equal right of all persons with disabilities to live independently and be engaged in the community.

The mission of Leading for Independent Living is to empower people with disabilities in Armenia to live independently, advocate for their rights, and participate fully in their communities. Achieving inclusive communities in Armenia requires a critical mass of people with disabilities who are informed about their rights and empowered to claim them. Individuals with disabilities must have access to resources for education, employment, health care, and to peers and mentors who model rights-bearing attitudes.

Leading for Independent Living is a three-year activity funded by USAID, implemented by MIUSA in partnership with two local Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) - Agate Rights Defense Center for Women with Disabilities NGO (Agate) and Equal Rights Equal Opportunities (EREO) NGO.

Over a three year period, Living for Independent Living will support the DPOs to establish and operate successful, sustainable consumer-led Independent Living Resource Centers (ILRCs). The first ILRC will open in Gyumri, Shirak region in 2020 and the second one in Vanadzor, Lori region, in 2021. By offering peer-led, rights-based services and resources to the DPOs in two regions of Armenia, the ILRCs will provide accessible and affordable information, supports, and services to facilitate independent living to women, men, and youth with diverse disabilities, to facilitate their access and independence in such areas as employment, women’s health, and assistive technologies.   

Living for Independent Living will also link U.S. Independent Living (IL) experts with Armenian counterparts, to provide ongoing, long-distance advising, and periodic technical assistance field visits. In addition, local business leaders, government agencies, and civil society allies will be engaged to invest in inclusive communities by building the capacity of the ILRCs. 

''We are going to implement all plans regarding the independent living resource center in collaboration with MIUSA, and we will be in touch with the leaders of independent living resource centers in the USA in order to study their experience'' – ‘Agate’ NGO President Karine Grigoryan.

Agate, a DPO based in Gyumri, has conducted disability rights, women’s leadership and advocacy programs for 12 years, directed by Karine Grigoryan, an alumna of MIUSA’s International Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD) and Training of Trainers program.

EREO, a DPO based in Vanadzor, has supported disability rights in the Lori region since 2014, led by EREO President, Anush Aslanyan, an alumna of MIUSA’s 2019 WILD.

Disclaimer:

This activity is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of MIUSA and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.