BRIDGE _Disability Rights and Elections Module
20 September 2019
The Election Commission of Nepal (ECN), with support of UNDP Electoral Support Project (ESP) and the European Union, conducted a BRIDGE Disability Rights and Elections workshop in Kathmandu from 13-15 September 2019. There were twenty-two participants in the workshop. They included representatives from the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens, people with disabilities (PWD), disabled people’s organisations (DPO), disability rights advocacy groups, political parties and the media. Among the participants, seven had some form of disability, and seven represented various political parties at the workshop. This allowed for lively but nuanced discussions about the rights and participation of PWDs as voters, as candidates and as election officials. Similarly, there was a thorough discussion on the roles of political parties to make election inclusive, particularly for PWDs.
The programme was inaugurated by the Secretary of the ECN, Ms. Dev Kumari Guragain. During her opening remarks, she said that the workshop was organized with the aim of establishing an inclusive electoral process. She also took the opportunity to inform the participants that the draft ECN’s third strategic plan is available at their website for stakeholders’ feedback, and informed that the recommendations from this particular workshop would feed into the strategic plan.
The objectives of the workshop were:
- To identify barriers in all phases of the electoral process that can limit the access of persons with disabilities to participate in political and public life.
- To identify solutions for dismantling the barriers and tools to analyse the electoral structure and procedures and develop strategies to promote access for persons with disabilities.
- To provide a networking opportunity for the Electoral Management Body (EMB), PWD organisations, advocacy groups and election stakeholders.
- To inform the participants about the upcoming by-election that is taking place on November 30 for just over 50 vacant positions.
The first day provided the participants with an overview of disabilities rights and international laws and documents on disability. The second day was dedicated to thematic issues like the national legal framework, electoral process, election cycle, barriers and obstacles. The third day was a chance for the participants to participate in mock polling and discuss the role of stakeholders – political parties, media, and disabled people’s organisations – to work for accessible and inclusive electoral processes. The methodology of BRIDGE also included team-building activities and evaluations.
The team of facilitators included:
- Nikila Shrestha- Accrediting Facilitator from UNDP ESP
- Pradeep Bhattarai – BRIDGE TtF Completed Facilitator form ECN
- Mamata Shrestha – BRIDGE TtF Completed Facilitator from ECN
The workshop was a great opportunity for political parties, PWDs, DPOs and media to exchange their points and visions about their respective roles and contributions. The participants gave positive feedback during the closing session of the programme, in which they appreciated the information, the content and they even suggested to organise such type of workshops at the provincial and local level for disability rights and the participation of people living with disability in the electoral process to be more widely understood. The training participants were enthusiastic and engaged throughout the three-day programme. At the conclusion of the training, they expressed their desire to work collectively to advance the political rights of persons with disabilities.
Photos available at: www.bit.do/bridge-disability