Disability Rights and Elections

26-28 June 2024


Conducted: Islamabad

Date: 26-28 June 2024

Partners: UNDP and ECP

BRIDGE Facilitators: Mr. Muhammad Qasim Janjua (Accrediting Facilitator), Ms. Salma Hassan (Workshop Facilitator), Mr. Nazar Abbas (Workshop Facilitator), Ms. Safya Akbar (TtF Facilitator)

Target Audience: Civil Society Organizations and Election Commission of Pakistan

What was the Event?

The UNDP with the support from USAID organized a three-day BRIDGE workshop on ‘Disability Rights and Elections’ for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Disabled persons Organizations (DPOs) and the Election Commission of Pakistan from June 26-28, 2024, in Islamabad.

 23 people including 12 women and 11 men participated in the workshop which includes ECP nominated five participants (3 women and 2 men) as gender and inclusion focal persons, representing each province and the ECP secretariat.

The workshop aims to enhance democratic culture through promoting inclusive and accessible electoral practices and sharing international best practices including main module objectives:

1.   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 and identify solutions for dismantling these barriers.
2.   Provide a networking opportunity for advocacy groups, as well as specific tools to analyse the electoral structures and procedures and develop strategies to promote access for persons with disabilities.
3.   Emphasise the importance of consultation processes with persons with disabilities and their representative organizations throughout the electoral cycle – from post-election analysis through design of materials and procedures – in order to identify and remove barriers that limit political participation.

The workshop was delivered by a team of four UNDP and ECP BRIDGE facilitators (2 women, 2 men).

This module is offered to CSOs, DPOs and ECP working on inclusion and rights of PWDs in access issues in relation to electoral processes, and/or have the responsibility of ensuring fair access in their organizations.

What was covered?

This course examined the barriers faced by persons with disabilities in accessing electoral processes and the challenges to participation in political and public life. In most countries, being able to cast a ballot in a public polling place is taken for granted. For people with disabilities, the accessibility of polling places and voting technologies as well as other aspects of the voting process can impact the ability of an individual to exercise their civic and political rights.

People with disabilities face numerous and interrelated barriers: social, political, physical, and economic which challenge cultural beliefs about normality, competency, responsibility, and definitions of citizenship. For example, the social stigma of intellectual disabilities and the medical model of disability has led to questioning whether such individuals are capable of and should be allowed to participate politically.

In order to dismantle these barriers, the course provided a networking opportunity for advocacy groups, tools to analyse the electoral structures and procedures and identifies strategies and solutions to promote access. In particular, this BRIDGE course emphasises the importance of the consultation process and inclusion of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations throughout the electoral cycle– from post-election analysis through to design of materials and procedures.

The training adopted an overall interactive BRIDGE methodology, incorporating group activities, demonstrations, role plays, mock exercises, individual exercises, discussions, debates, and case studies on topics such as Disability and Access, Identifying person with disabilities as a stakeholder group, Discrimination in Political and Public Life, Legal Framework, Barriers to Participation in Political and Public Life, Voters with Access Issues, Equal Access and the Electoral Cycle, Equal Access Barriers and Strategies, Mainstreaming Disability, 2024 General Elections Overview -Pakistan with context to accessibility, Values Clarification on Voting Restrictions, Accessible Voter Education, Strategic Reform Plan and Development of Accessibility Action Plan.


What was Significance?

The module is structured around the various phases of the electoral cycle, stakeholders and political life with the purpose to make them accessible:

1.       Election Phases: explores the nature of barriers and structures such as the legal framework and media that affect people with disabilities participation as voters, candidates and elected representatives, as well as in leadership roles within state institutions, electoral management bodies and political parties. A range of strategies in accessing electoral processes are identified as are the various international declarations and resolutions that highlight government obligations to ensure accessibility.

2.       Election Stakeholder Organizations: in election administration, as in the wider world, people with disabilities seldom occupy high-ranking positions or possess significant public status. Participants explore obstacles faced by people with disabilities in the workplace and public life. The practical strategies and skills for mainstreaming the inclusion of people with disabilities are addressed by analysing inequality in the staffing, procedures and culture of organizations as well as in the development of programs. Best practices from around the world are identified that can enhance the participation of people with disabilities in post-conflict and more stable democracies.

3.       Political Life: in post-conflict-situations, democratic elections are key to peace-building and the inclusion of all people is vital to ensuring sustainable democracy. Through regular contact with officials, political parties, media representatives, DPOs, NGOs and other electoral stakeholders, people with disabilities can provide valuable insights into the rights of all types of people, the barriers to equal participation in public life, and the reforms that might help overcome them.


Closing Ceremony

Mr. Nadeem Haider, Director General ECP attended the closing ceremony and presented certificates to the participants. In his closing remarks, he emphasized the need close coordination of electoral stakeholders to ensure inclusive and accessible electoral processes.

Muhammad Qasim Janjua, Salma Hassan
Face to face workshop
Audience(s) for this workshop:
Electoral Management Body, Civil Society Organisation
Urdu, English
Modules used at this workshop:
Disability Rights and Elections
Expected Outcomes:
To develop a support network for stakeholders in electoral processes