Project title

“Upholding diversity and inclusion of all: advancing universal economic, social and cultural rights to leave no persons with disabilities behind in Southern Africa, in a world challenged by multiple crises”

In a nutshell

In early 2021, the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affair launched a call for proposals for support to INGOs, complementing Finland’s development cooperation efforts. One of the thematic focus areas was related to strengthening the implementation of economic, social, and cultural (ESC) rights to address discriminatory practices, with priority given to organizations focusing on the rights of persons in vulnerable situations and to interventions addressing gender equality, capacity building of rights’ holders and advocacy.

Our project is a strategy reflecting the learning and prioritization of IDA and its members to promote the universality of ESC rights for all persons with disabilities, with a focus on Southern Africa. This project responds to entrenched discrimination, especially for most marginalized and underrepresented groups of persons with disabilities, by developing the capacity and influence of the disability rights movement in Southern Africa.

The discrimination faced by persons with disabilities is aggravated by sanitary, environmental and crises in the democratic framework of a country. By having the project invest in women with disabilities and other underrepresented groups, including indigenous persons with disabilities and youth with disabilities, the ESC rights of persons with disabilities will be more effectively promoted.

The project articulates an intervention by, for and with persons with disabilities. It builds solidarities from national to regional and global levels to play a role as frontline defenders of the economic, social and cultural rights of all persons with disabilities.

IDA and its members, in particular the African Disability Forum (ADF), the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and Inclusion International (II), as well as national and subregional federations of organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) in Southern Africa, particularly from Mozambique, Angola, and Zambia. The project will help to create a system of coordination for their efforts to address the underlying causes of discriminations and set the preconditions for more inclusive policy and program responses in the longer run.


3 years, from 01/01/2022 to 31/12/2024

Total project budget

€5,087,220 (Finland’s contribution: €2,145,000[1])

Project foci

  • Promotion of the economic, social, and cultural (ESC) rights of persons with disabilities
  • Regional focus: Southern Africa
  • Target countries: Mozambique, Angola, and Zambia (with possible synergies in Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe)
  • Complementary interventions at national, regional, and global levels
  • Major international fora include the UN system (UN human rights monitoring mechanisms, the UN General Assembly, the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development) and the African Union

Project Impact

The economic, social and cultural rights of persons with disabilities are advanced by Member States, the UN and international cooperation stakeholders across human rights, development, peace and security agendas. This will happen through partnerships with and through meaningful engagement of OPDs, who will technically equip the framing, delivery and monitoring of policies and programs that affect their lives (particularly for the most marginalized).

Project outcome

Commitments of Member States, the UN and international cooperation stakeholders are strengthened, along with the capacities and coordination of OPDs to do the following:

  • represent the diversity of persons with disabilities,
  • technically advise and hold duty bearers accountable, and
  • lead to progress in realization of the economic, cultural and social rights of persons with disabilities, with a focus on Southern Africa.


1. The disability rights movement in Southern Africa has strengthened its collective response through the enhanced technical capacities of disability activists and enhanced capability of OPD-led initiatives.

Indicative activities:

  • Delivery of Bridge CRPD-SDGs training in Portuguese and Training of Trainers.
  • OPD-led initiatives by IDA members or their national membersto advance ESC rights in target countries, with a focus on women with disabilities and underrepresented groups.
  • Production of online training material on ESC rights

2. Underrepresented groups of persons with disabilities (in particular women with disabilities) have strengthened their capacity for self-representation and advocacy. Their priorities are included within the disability rights movement and other civil society movements.Indicative activities:

  • Continuation of IDA’s gender flagship and development of the women with disabilities section of the African disability rights movement in Southern Africa, linking with ADF’s gender strategy.
  • WFD will contribute to the development of online resources in Sign Language about deaf women.
  • Develop national and subregional advocacy strategies by and for women with disabilities through workshops, online courses, advocacy campaigns and fellowships.
  • Inclusion International will engage with persons with intellectual disabilities to create participation guidelines, develop training modules for the IDA online platform, Easy-To-Read for iData, and enhanced participation in Bridge Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)-SDGs training.
  • Continuation of other flagships: youths with disabilities (with UNICEF), and indigenous persons with disabilities (with the Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Global Network) including their African counterparts.

3. Economic, social and cultural rights of persons with disabilities in Southern Africa and beyond are more effectively promoted through prominent development and humanitarian agendas (e.g., the 2030 Agenda) and more inclusive practices of international cooperation stakeholders.

Indicative activities:

4. The UN human rights system, its mechanisms and jurisprudence uphold the highest CRPD standards to advance the economic, social and cultural rights for all persons with disabilities, with active involvement of OPDs from the Global South, in particular from Southern African countries, and involving the most marginalized groups.        

Indicative activities:

  • Support the engagement of OPDs from the Global South with UN Human Rights mechanisms, in particular in the CRPD, CESCR, CEDAW and CRC Committees review processes, as well as engagement with the Human Rights Council.
  • Country workshops on CRPD and support on follow-up of Concluding Observations.

The project is in line with IDA’s Strategic Framework 2020-2023. It is fully embedded in IDA’s mandate and responds to priorities identified with IDA members and their members at all levels. It is a direct investment in movement building, which will foster solidarities and collaborations across levels and constituencies of the disability rights movement for more diverse and representative movements.

[1] IDA’s allocation is the most copious grant awarded in the framework of the call for “Support for international non-governmental organizations to promote human rights in developing countries - 2021” by the Finland Ministry of Foreign Affair, which comprises an overall budget of €17.82 million euro. A full list of the approved grants can be seen here.