Disability Rights Fund

DRF-logo1) What is the work your organization is doing ?
The Disability Rights Fund provides financial, movement-building and capacity support to disabled persons organizations (DPOs) in developing countries to take the lead in advocating for the human rights of persons with disabilities at local and national levels. DRF’s grantmaking emphasizes support to organizations that represent the most marginalized populations within the disability community, such as people with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities, women with disabilities, and indigenous persons with disabilities. Since its inception in 2008, DRF has provided more than $17 million in grants to over 250 disabled persons organizations in 32 countries across the globe, and 12% of our total grant making has gone to indigenous-led disabled persons organizations.
2) How does your foundation work to support Indigenous communities?
In 2011, with an invitation to participate in an IFIP conference, DRF started to review our grantmaking data to see how many grantees of ours were from indigenous communities. Since 2008, 12% of our pooled fund grants have gone to indigenous-led groups and projects targeting indigenous persons with disabilities.  Countries/regions where we’ve supported organizations of indigenous persons with disabilities and/or projects addressing this population include:
  • Bangladesh
  • Mexico
  • Peru
  • Pacific Island Countries
DRF-2Indigenous persons with disabilities face multiple forms of discrimination and are often among the most marginalized populations within their communities and countries. DRF provides grants and capacity support to organizations led by indigenous persons with disabilities working to combat discrimination and promote their representation and participation in national, regional and international human rights and development dialogues.
In addition to pooled fund grants to individual organizations and, through partnership with the International Disability Alliance, the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund, DRF’s sister fund, is supporting an emergent global network of indigenous persons with disabilities to carry out advocacy on the rights of indigenous persons with disabilities on the regional and global level to bodies such as the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and regional mechanisms.
3) Can you share a lesson learned from working with Indigenous communities?  
In the emergent global network of indigenous persons with disabilities, some challenges advocates have faced is coordinating across continents with limited access to Internet and with language barriers. Through this project, we have learned that taking a regional approach limits such barriers. The project has hired regional coordinators in Latin America and Asia, and a translator to handle language barriers.  This has facilitated a significant increase in communication withi and between the different regions and has helped to ensure more activities at regional level where coordinators are based.  For example, there will be an Asia regional meeting with indigenous leaders with disabilities in Bangkok in March 2016 to work with the Asia Indigenous Persons Pact. Another important lesson is that indigenous persons with disabilities face exclusion from both the disability rights movement and the Indigenous Peoples movement.  Building cross-movement collaboration has been extremely helpful in addressing this exclusion.  For example, working at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to ensure that indigenous persons with disabilities have a voice, has helped to secure greater understanding of the intersections between the rights of persons with disabilities and the rights of Indigenous Peoples.  This was galvanized by the creation of a disability caucus at UNPFII and the Secretariat’s report on the situation of indigenous persons with disabilities, funded by DRAF, and presented at the Permanent Forum’s 12th session. The report is available at: http://www.un.org/disabilities/documents/ecosoc/e.c.19.2013.6.pdf
4) Can you share one of your grantees and why their work is making a difference?
DRF-1In 2012, DRF, the International Disability Alliance (IDA), and DRF’s sister fund, the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund (DRAF), sponsored a delegation of seven indigenous leaders with disabilities to attend the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII). The delegation, comprised of indigenous leaders with disabilities from Bangladesh, Cook Islands, Fiji, Mexico, Peru, and Papua New Guinea, formed a Disability Caucus, establishing permanent representation of persons with disabilities at the UNPFII; advocated for attention to the situation of indigenous persons with disabilities globally, resulting in an Expert report presented from the UNPFII plenary in 2013; and founded the Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Global Network (IPWDGN).
Through continuous participation at UNPFII over the past three years, members of IPWDGN have provided an avenue for indigenous persons with disabilities to be included in international human rights and development negotiations, which encompassed the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in September 2014, the result of which was the inclusion of three references to indigenous persons with disabilities in the conference’s Outcome Document – part of the post-2015 process.
DRF/DRAF continue to support IPWDGN to establish globally and advocate at both regional and international levels. In 2015, IPWDGN held two regional meetings in Asia and Latin America to grow their membership. IPWDGN is creating a bridge between indigenous and disability rights communities and raising the voice of an extremely marginalized population whose rights need to be addressed by both the Indigenous Peoples movement and the disability rights movement.