Persons with disabilities in humanitarian action: advantages of local partnerships.
During the 33rd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in Geneva, Finland, together with Australia, Finnish Red Cross, ICRC, IFRC and the International Disability Alliance (IDA), organized a side-event on Disability Partnerships.
The focus of the event was on partnerships and localization in humanitarian services. It highlighted the importance of local level partnerships and including persons with disabilities in the delivery of more effective and accessible humanitarian services. The event emphasized the role of persons living with disabilities as actors instead of passive receivers of aid, and the significance of local partnerships in building trust and accountability in humanitarian action. It was also concluded that it is not sufficient to have persons with disabilities only as participants in a dialogue, but as genuine decision makers and leaders within organizations.
The event presented knowledgeable and interesting speakers. In the opening remarks, Ms. Satu Santala, Director General of the Department for Development Policy of MFA, Finland, mentioned that persons with disabilities, particularly women and girls, are routinely left behind in global humanitarian programmes and policy framework. Other speakers included Ms. Dalal Mohammed Mohammed Al-Taji from the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS), Secretary-General Mr. Dev Ratna Dhakhwa from Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) and Mr. Grzegorz Gruca, Vice-President at Polish Humanitarian Action (PAH). Facilitation was provided by Ms. Elham Youssefian from International Disability Alliance, Niklas Saxén from the Finnish Red Cross and Mina Mojtahedi from ICRC/IFRC.
The discussion was active, and the great turnout highlighted the demand for reflection around the topic. Closing remarks were provided by Mr. Steve Scott, Acting Australian Humanitarian Coordinator. The feedback to organizers has been excellent. Participants found the contextual examples shared by the speakers inspiring and interesting.
A photo exhibition from a project called “Fifteen Percent” by the photographer Christian Tasso formed part of the event and gathered many interested viewers. Photos showed the stories of many persons living with disabilities in different parts of the world. https://www.fifteenpercentphotoproject.com/
Finland is committed to continuing working towards better inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action. Similar events, inclusive of persons living with disabilities, should form part of the official programme of the conference, next being held in four years.