By Anonymous

 - July 13, 2022

By Elizabeth Ombati, OPD Engagement Officer Kenya

From the experience of the Inclusion Works (IW) program, the OPD Engagement Officers can play key roles in strengthening the disability movement. A strengthened disability movement is critical in supporting programs such as IW, whose objective is to support the increased participation of persons with disabilities in the labour market.

I worked closely with the umbrella OPD (organization of persons with disabilities) structure. These are some reflections from these engagements.

  • The umbrella OPD acted as a facilitator and a convener of the five IW partner OPDs working at the IW program counties in Kenya
  • Each month the umbrella OPD convened all five IW partners together and led in a process of reflecting on what each partner OPD was doing, the points of synergies, among others.
  • It was inspiring to have some OPD members say, ‘we have not worked with persons with intellectual disabilities before, therefore it was great that we could carry out such a project together.’ This was impressive because through the convening/facilitation of the OPD umbrella, possibilities of a stronger movement that builds on the diversity of its memberships can be reached. The umbrella can play a key role to support the inclusion and engagement of underrepresented groups of persons with disabilities in national advocacy.

The key take away is that the umbrella OPD needs to be strengthened to represent the diversity of disability within the country first.

  • Within IW, United Disabled Persons of Kenya, the umbrella OPD closely worked with OPD members of persons with intellectual disabilities and persons with psychosocial disabilities to offer support to trainees from these constituent groups who were benefitting from IW interventions such as hard skills and soft skills trainings.   
  • Throughout this process, the OPD EO was engaged with the umbrella OPD, offering support in a diversity of ways which has also been recognized by UDPK.
  • As an OPD EO I supported the umbrella OPD in events such as trainings to partners, developing training resources, as well as taking part in umbrella meetings with IW partners where it was imperative to offer advisory that was based on the CRPD principles. 

The key take away is that the OPD EO and the programme officers working within the umbrella OPD need to have a cordial working relationship that is based on trust. This was very helpful because it helped me as the OPD EO to offer guidance on some rising matters at the field level, because as OPD EO, I did not engage on day to day running of program activities.

How can OPD Engagement Officers, therefore be supported to be in position to offer support to the umbrella OPD

  • The OPD EO has a connection to the disability movement;
  • The OPD EO has a deep understanding of the CRPD. As OPD EO in Kenya I am an alumni of the Bridge CRPD SDGs training initiative that endeavors to strengthen a deep understanding of the CRPD and how to use it in advocacy 
  • The OPD EO must have an awareness of marginalization within the movement. As OPD EO and coming from an underrepresented group, as a woman with a psychosocial disability, this awareness was within me.

Hosting of the OPD EO Mechanism in the umbrella OPD at country level supported the OPD EO to tap into existing mechanisms such as the Caucus on Disability Advocacy and have the National Project Advisory Committee be a part of the Caucus, taking forward national advocacy roles. This therefore played a key role in strengthening of the movement.

In other news