From the 20th to the 23rd August, the Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Global Network (IPWDGN), the Narok South Disability Network and the International Disability Alliance (IDA) held a Workshop on ensuring the rights of indigenous persons with disabilities in line with the UN CRPD, in connection with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (DRIP) and the Agenda 2030, with support from the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund (DRAF) and MFA Finland.

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Chief Executive Officer, United Disabled Persons of Kenya and Board of East Africa Federation of the Disabled

“This is a landmark meeting. UDPK is committed to work with indigenous people with disabilities as well as persons with psychosocial disabilities and intellectual disabilities. These groups cannot be left behind. It is important that indigenous persons with disabilities are involved in the work of Disabled Persons Organizations (DPOs). There is need to come up with a close coalition which would be important to advance the rights of indigenous persons with disabilities and it is a good thing that already they have come together under the Narok South Disability Network to receive training on the CRPD, SDGs and UNDRIP. This engagement with participants in this workshop has been key in reminding us, the umbrella organization, that often time indigenous persons with disabilities may be left out in the work of DPOs. 

Awareness raising and advocacy on advancing the rights of the indigenous persons with disabilities is important and even as a big responsibility to advance their rights does fall on their shoulders because they bring their own, rich diverse experiences as indigenous people, as the umbrella organization we shall continue to work with them and all persons with disabilities in Kenya to advance our rights.”

Leonard Cheshire Disability

“As human beings, we have different identities and engaging with indigenous persons with disability in this workshop has been very important to show the intersectionality between indigenous persons and disability. Discrimination happens based on our different identities and being an indigenous person with disability would expose individuals to multiple forms of discrimination.

As a development organization, we realize that there is still an information gap and sometimes we may not reach out to all people and this workshop has opened the way for us to ensure that indigenous persons with disabilities are meaningfully involved in our programs.

Going forward it is critical that all development partners are deliberate about reaching out to marginalized groups whereby indigenous persons with disabilities fall.”

Chairman of the Narok South Disability Network

“It is the very first time we organise a meeting for, by and with indigenous persons with disabilities in Kenya. I am glad of its success. A step has been made towards reaching unreached communities. And what better way than to learn about the CRPD, SDGs and UNDRIP? The focus is to leave no one behind!

Due to limited resources, poor infrastructure, limited education, access to information among other barriers, most indigenous communities and more so those with disabilities may be negatively affected. For us, coming to meet the people in these rural and remote areas is very critical because it is also supporting our government in many ways.

The government is keen on public participation of people in policy development among others, but how can communities participate if they have no information? Therefore, it was important that the indigenous persons with disabilities get the information. This is a resource that is very important for us.

The workshop has indeed supported us and will help us in our advocacy in ensuring that we are advocating for inclusion in our communities. There is continued need to build synergies between government and the people and this is one way of doing it and we are happy that we received the support from international partners to carry out the training.”

State Department of Social Protection, Pensions and Senior Citizens; Ministry of Labour and Social Protection

“There is increasing need to focus on rural areas as we continue to implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Kenya. Building the capacity of all persons with disabilities is crucial because with information on their human rights, all persons with disabilities including those from the indigenous communities will be in a position to demand these rights. 

Capacity building is also important because as the state we must consult with persons with disabilities to inform our policies and programing. We acknowledge that we may not have all the information and the people with disabilities are crucial to help us and working to ensure inclusion means that we exchange knowledge gained through our lived experiences but also that we gain through such trainings as this one that has been carried out with indigenous persons with disabilities.

It is important to acknowledge that some people in view of years of discrimination, they have been left behind in development. There are communities that apply their culture in doing things and it is important to recognize traditions and identity. We appreciate all cultures and it is important to mainstream disability in the view of cultural differences. As such we shall continue to work with all persons with disabilities including those from indigenous communities.”

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights

“As the Commission, we have worked before with indigenous persons and also with persons with disabilities. However, we have not worked with indigenous persons with disabilities. This has been an eye opener for us who are the designated national monitoring agency under Article 33.2 of the CRPD. Interacting with the participants has brought to the fore key concerns such as the need to expand social protection measures for indigenous persons with disabilities. Issues were also raised of not obtaining ID cards where parents do not register their children with disabilities as they are not seen to be of value.

As such, this engagement of the Commission with the indigenous persons with disabilities has been informative and interesting and going forward we realize that there is need to equip indigenous persons with disabilities. This will be through protection of their rights particularly in regard to their inclusion in decision making and non-discrimination.

It is also important to continue to improve their social and economic conditions by ensuring that they have access to employment and inclusive education. This can be achieved though holding forums and conducting trainings organized by various stakeholders and national human rights institutions on the rights of indigenous persons with disabilities and how to claim them. As such it is important that the International Disability Alliance and the Indigenous persons with disabilities in Kenya have partnered to hold this training.”

“I am a teacher and a social worker. I am also a trainer and I founded a Disabled Persons Organization (DPO). I have worked for many years with persons with disabilities and I appreciate that this training on the CRPD, the SDGs and UNDRIP has added to my knowledge and given me new insights on how I do my advocacy. During these four days, I learnt a lot about rights of persons with disabilities and knowledge of the CRPD has given me the strength to understand that both locally and globally, there is space for us to engage with our governments and here in my community also engage with the county government.

Meeting government and development stakeholders was very important for me as they reaffirmed that they have opened their doors to engage with us indigenous persons with disabilities. Something important for me, among the new things I learnt was on advocacy. How to do advocacy in different ways. For example, most of us persons with disabilities having gone through an education that segregates us, we have often felt happy with it. But I realized that special education in no way makes us special rather it isolates us from the community. For that, my advocacy skills have been strengthened especially on advocating for inclusive education and also that all teachers have skills to train learners with disabilities.” 

“I am 26-year-old and my career is in human resource management. As a young woman, who is indigenous, and has albinism, this training was timely for me and also new because I had not been introduced to the CRPD before. So, to learn and understand my rights and also to understand that my government has a duty to fulfil my rights was very meaningful for me.

I also learnt that through DPOs we can advance our rights which has given me an impetus to make sure that other youth with albinism are also members of DPOs. As an indigenous person now I have been equipped with skills that I can also pass to other people especially the youth with disability.

Speaking with a development partner from an international agency was also important for me. I used to think that I could only engage with the National Council for Persons with Disabilities but I have learnt that as I am a member of my community, I should be able to engage with all organizations that work not only for disability but also in development.”

“I am 26 years old and work as a teacher. As a deaf woman, this training has exposed me to the rights of all persons with disabilities and I am glad to have been involved because it is not something that happens all the time. I will use the opportunity to also share the knowledge with other persons in my community.”

Loitoktok Association for the Disabled

“My greatest learning was about the UNCRPD, SDG and UNDRIP and how to use these three instruments to achieve inclusion of indigenous persons with disabilities. During the workshop, I met key people from entities like Kenya National Human Rights Commission and Ministry of Labor and Social Protection. I felt privileged engaging them on matters that affects indigenous persons with disabilities. I also learnt more about the umbrella bodies of persons with disabilities and how to engage them. 

I am more focused on leading my grassroots organization to lobby and to advocate for the rights of indigenous persons with disabilities by utilizing the knowledge that I gained as I learned that it is upon DPO’s to claim rights for indigenous persons with disabilities.”

Narok South Disability Network

“My greatest learnings were more information on UNCRPD, SDG and UNDRIP. The meaning of CRPD principles was very insightful to me. As a leader and through my DPO, I have the role of passing information to other organizations of indigenous persons with disabilities and to do more awareness raising in community. Interacting with a representative from INGO was beneficial for me. I learnt how to cooperate with different stakeholders.”