2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is officially adopted!

1 October, 2015 - CBM Australia

This blog was written by Elizabeth Lockwood and was originally written on 26 September 2015.

Elizabeth Lockwood is CBM’s UN Advocacy Officer in New York. Elizabeth focuses on developing advocacy strategies to raise awareness, network, build capacity, and lobby for the rights of persons with disabilities at the UN level in relation to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Inclusive Development. She also coordinates efforts of mainstreaming persons with disabilities in the post-2015 sustainable development agenda and conducts research and writes briefs to assist with strategies for inclusion of disability issues in Millennium Development Goal efforts. Elizabeth has worked with Deaf communities in five countries focusing on advocacy and grassroots activism, is fluent in five sign languages, and has a Ph.D. in Disability Studies.

25 September 2015 was a historic day at the United Nations in New York and what a day it was! I was truly honored and privileged to be in the UN while His Holiness Pope Francis addressed the General Assembly, while the inspirational Malala Yousafzai spoke with 193 young people surrounding her, and while the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda) was officially adopted by the General Assembly.

Alt="Orsolya Bartha, IDA and I standing outside the UN at the Summit"

Orsolya Bartha, IDA and I standing outside the UN at the Summit

The 2030 Agenda brings a fundamental shift for all people and the planet and seeks to promote, protect and fulfill human rights for all. We as CBM are celebrating this historic moment as the 2030 Agenda is truly inclusive of persons with disabilities. This is particularly significant because the previous UN development goals – the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – excluded persons with disabilities. Click here to read CBM’s statement. Moreover, to coincide with the 2030 Agenda adoption, CBM is launching a publication Dialogues on Sustainable Development: A Disability-Inclusive Perspective to highlight the inclusion of persons with disabilities across all development themes.

The disability-inclusive 2030 Agenda includes 11 explicit references to persons with disabilities, of which you can read an analysis here. In addition, persons with disabilities were largely included throughout the opening Summit. Below are examples of the inclusion of persons with disabilities from 25 September:

Alt="His Holiness Pope Francis speaking to the General Assembly"

His Holiness Pope Francis speaking to the General Assembly

Alt="The 2030 Agenda is officially adopted!"

The 2030 Agenda is officially adopted!

In the evening, Sightsavers organized an IDA-IDDC reception of the powerful photographic exhibition “Framing Perceptions.” We were honored to have Michael Higgins, President of Ireland attend the event. It was a beautiful way to end an historic day.

We are celebrating a disability-inclusive agenda, yet it is important to note that gaps remain and the real work lies ahead. We must continue to advocate for the development of an inclusive indicator framework linked to the Goals and targets of Agenda 2030. Furthermore, we must carry out effective implementation at the national and regional levels with linkages to the global level.

The road to the adoption of the 2030 Agenda has truly been collaborative and thank you to all of those who have tirelessly worked for this outcome. I have to particularly thank my colleagues from the International Disability Alliance for their stellar teamwork. Let’s continue the momentum!

Alt="Celebrating the 2030 Agenda adoption at the UN with (left to right) Orsolya Bartha, IDA; Vladimir Cuk, IDA; Liisa Kauppinen, former WFD President, Rosangela Berman Bieler, UNICEF; Elizabeth Lockwood, CBM; and Gopal Mitra, UNICEF "

Celebrating the 2030 Agenda adoption at the UN with (left to right) Orsolya Bartha, IDA; Vladimir Cuk, IDA; Liisa Kauppinen, former WFD President, Rosangela Berman Bieler, UNICEF; Elizabeth Lockwood, CBM; and Gopal Mitra, UNICEF

More information

UN Summit on 2030 Agenda

IDA, IDDC, UNICEF, UNDESA press release

Disability Indicators Update

Follow me on Twitter for on-the-spot updates @LockwoodEM






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Our woman of influence

24 September, 2015 - CBM Australia

CBM Australia’s very own Inclusive Development Director, Dr Kirsty Thompson is one of Australia’s 100 Women of Influence.

Kirsty Thompson, Director, Inclusive Development

On September 24, the Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards 2015 was published, announcing Kirsty in the Global category for her work in strengthening Australia’s Aid program through disability-inclusive development.

CEO of CBM Australia, Jane Edge who nominated Kirsty said:
“In the nearly three years I’ve had the privilege of working with her, I’ve been incredibly impressed by Kirsty’s ability to leverage her personal and professional commitment in growing support for disability inclusive development globally – this is a well deserved recognition of her leadership, passion and strength”.

An innovative, highly collaborative and inspirational woman, Kirsty is prepared to step out and take risks to see the world’s most marginalised people, especially women and girls, gain a voice. Through her exceptional vision, vibrant leadership, intentional empowerment, and mentoring of those around her – she is truly a catalyst of change.

Kirsty’s early lived experience of disability, having been born with club-feet, contributed strongly to her understanding and approaches towards disability-inclusive development. She studied Occupational Therapy at the University of Sydney and at a very early point in her career focused on the social and economic exclusion generally faced by people living with disability.

While studying for her PhD and teaching at the University of Sydney, Kirsty mentored and encouraged younger students, coordinating a program in which students gained rehabilitation experience in poor communities in India. Many of the young women who joined this program continue to make significant contributions to Australia’s international development efforts throughout the world.

Joining CBM Australia in 2005 as the organisation’s ‘Disability Specialist’, Kirsty’s primary role was to see disability considerations built into Australia’s response to the Indian Ocean Tsunami, and subsequently to the devastating Pakistan earthquake of late 2005.

Given Kirsty’s unique combination of academic knowledge, practical experience and extraordinary passion, her influence was obvious.

A meeting of CBM’s International President, Professor Allen Foster with Kirsty and some of her close colleagues in 2007 was a key to CBM improving its programmatic approaches towards inclusion and adopting a new vision statement: “An inclusive world in which all people with disability enjoy their human rights and achieve their full potential”.

Kirsty’s influential role in strengthening CBM Australia’s advocacy, and the creation of the ‘Australian Disability and Development Consortium’ (ADDC), were foundational to the launch of Australia’s first ‘Development for All’ Strategy in 2008; re-launched by the Hon Julie Bishop in 2015.

Since 2008 ‘Development for All’ has created enormous strength in Australia’s Aid Program, ensuring people with disability, who make up 20 per cent of the world’s poorest people, are included in international development efforts.

In 2009, Kirsty was invited to establish CBM Australia’s Inclusive Development Department – a team that now has 24 staff – and quickly achieved significant outcomes, such as:

  • Establishment of the CBM-Nossal Partnership with the University of Melbourne
  • Founding CBM Australia’s ongoing contracts with Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for the implementation of ‘Development for All’
  • Numerous training, consultancy and research assignments with Australian Council for International Development members
  • The launch of the ‘End the Cycle of poverty and disability’ campaign where people with disability tell their own stories (www.endthecycle.org.au)

These achievements speak to Kirsty’s strong mentoring and empowering approaches – a skill that is recognised throughout the Australian and international development sector.

Through Kirsty’s work and dedication, some of the most marginalised and disadvantaged people in the world, those with disability, are now being intentionally included and are contributing to their country’s development and poverty alleviation strategies.

Although this is just a small snapshot of Kirsty’s achievements, it is clear that she is a woman of influence, and we at CBM Australia are thrilled that her work has been recognised.

The most influential in each category, as well as the most influential overall, will be announced at an awards evening on October 15 in Sydney Town Hall.

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International Week of the Deaf

23 September, 2015 - CBM Australia

Elena Down is a Senior Technical Advisor in the Inclusive Development Department at CBM Australia. She is deaf, and is a qualified lawyer and development practitioner who advises on a wide range of disability inclusive development issues. She had the opportunity to attend the World Federation of the Deaf Congress in Turkey with CBM, and reflects here on how sign language plays a part in creating and celebrating a diverse and inclusive world.

When was the last time you attended a conference and communicated effortlessly with people from over 90 countries?

This was the experience of many deaf attendees at the World Federation of the Deaf Congress in late July in Istanbul, Turkey, with the theme ‘Celebrating Human Diversity’.

It was great to see a range of papers presented in sign language from Deaf presenters globally – young leaders in Indonesia, psychologists presenting on mental health and deafness, educators , European deaf parliamentarians on legislative and policy developments and advocacy, and deaf African lawyer talking about the need for more support to deaf women and girls, and access to justice.

Rose Kwamboka (CBM Kenya) presents at CBM side event.

Rose Kwamboka (CBM Kenya) presents at CBM side event.

This year there was a stronger space for perspectives from developing countries. We had older role models, and energetic youth. It truly was an inspiring conference!

At this year’s Congress, CBM was delighted to co-host a side event with presenters Rose Kwamboka (CBM Kenya) and Nassozi  Kiyaga (from CBM partner organisation Deaflink Uganda), along with representatives from other development organisations Kentalis and Abelis Foundation, also working to support the deaf in developing countries.

For me one of the highlights was being able to meet deaf staff and partners of CBM face-to-face.

What a talented, enthusiastic and energetic and diverse group we had gathered – we had ideas and hands flying fast! – from Australia, Belgium, Philippines, Kenya, Thailand, Pakistan, Uganda, Niger, South Africa, USA and Wales. We had people with backgrounds as diverse as finance, technical advising in development, human rights advocacy, deaf education and vocational skills training.

This is an exciting space for CBM. We need to be able to reach out to deaf people globally, who remain among the world’s poorest and most overlooked people – 80 percent of people who are deaf live in developing countries and often lack access to services. In many cases this is because of a lack of access to sign language and to qualified interpreters, as well as discriminatory laws and attitudes toward deaf people.

This year’s theme for International Week of the Deaf is: “With sign language rights, our children can” – highlighting the importance of sign language to the achievement of full access to education for deaf children.

Elena Down (CBM Australia), Akram Muhammad (Pakistan), Sian Tesni (CBM education advisor, Wales) and Pakistani sign language interpreter Aqeel (Pakistan.)

Sign language is so important for deaf kids – to give and receive information, to learn and to make sense of their world, and to participate in activities just as their hearing peers do. Unfortunately, a large majority of the world’s Deaf population have never been to school, with estimates as high as 90% of people who are Deaf not receiving formal education.  (World Federation for the Deaf statistic)

I will never forget a moment in China, where I visited a deaf school being quizzed by a 3 year old boy – hands flying – “Why is your nose so big? Where do you come from? Where is Australia? Is it surrounded by water? Then how did you get here anyway? Did you swim?”  He was disarming in his cheekiness. This is what we want to see – inquisitive, confident deaf kids keen to learn about their world with sign language.

Take a moment this week to watch a video to appreciate the beauty of sign language in motion, and reflect on how important it is for deaf people to have access to it – to learn it, to share ideas in it, to present conference papers and training in it, and join the campaign for kids to have access to sign language so that the next generation might have even better opportunities to break cycles of poverty and take their place in making the world a more diverse, more exciting and colourful place!

Sign Language Promotes Linguistic Identity

Sign Language Promotes Linguistic Identity

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Cataract surgery – the flow-on effect…

17 September, 2015 - CBM Australia

CBM Australia’s, Content Lead, Amanda Warrick visited our field partners in Bangladesh, to collect stories and images for Miracles Day.  Here she reflects on her meeting with 80 year old Shanti and how her life has changed after her cataract surgery.

In July, we were in the middle of the coldest winter for the last two decades; it was definitely not the greatest preparation for time spent in Bangladesh – where temperatures were at a constant 33°C with 90% humidity.

The rivers were fast-flowing due to monsoon season, and traffic was barely moving due the congested roads. It was very hot, very muggy and in places by the river where wild boars roam, it could only be described as very fragrant.

It was with this back drop that I gained a deeper insight into the flow-on effect of CBM’s work and how treatment is just the start.

Shanti and her grandchildren

Shanti and her grandchildren

I was privileged to meet Shanti at her home, approximately three hours out of the capital city, Dhaka.  As I sat with her on the muddy ground outside her home, the local community crammed in to see the strangers who had travelled to the middle of nowhere, to visit their neighbour.

Shanti had cataract surgery six months ago, before surgery she had spent eight months living in total darkness.

“When the days were black, I was very unhappy and passed the time away alone in my home or in the yard, as everyone else was busy with their work – without sight I lost my world…” Shanti said.  She was completely dependent on her family for everything; collecting and preparing food, eating, cleaning her home and herself, doing her washing, walking, going to the toilet, she felt helpless and like she was a burden.

Since having her sight-restoring surgery through a CBM partner, she’s back to her best. She contributes to her family home, by helping with cooking and cleaning. She also enjoys the simple pleasure of sitting with her grandsons, playing games with them and seeing the smiles on their faces.

When I’ve thought about cataract surgery in the past, I’ve focussed on the actual surgery – which is awe-inspiring: 12 minutes and someone has their sight restored, how amazing! But it was when I met Shanti that I truly understood the difference this one surgery made; not only to Shanti, but also to her family, and her whole community.  The flow-on effect is huge and has many positive outcomes.

A simple surgery through CBM means someone like Shant will get their world back. Shanti is able to meaningfully contribute to her family.  She is now independent and self sufficient.  And because Shanti no longer needs constant care, her family can go to work and earn money for food, or go to school, without fear or concern for her.

It’s more than just surgery; one treatment flows on to positively impact the whole community.

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The Many Faces of Inequality – Melbourne Development Circle

11 September, 2015 - CBM Australia

On Tuesday 1 September, CBM Australia, WaterAid Australia and Plan international joined together to present at the Melbourne Development Circle.

The event, which was attended by more than 60 people, focused on how different layers of identity can impact on a person’s experience of inequality.

CBM Australia, Senior Technical Advisor, Sally Cobb, reflected on how intersections of identity such as disability, gender, and age can affect access to rights and opportunities.

“By seeking to understand the diverse layers and impact of identity, we can also identify and address the barriers facing people who are excluded and marginalised, and work towards ensuring that no one is left behind in development efforts,” says Sally.

Melbourne Development Circle

Photo: Sally Cobb, CBM Australia, facilitates a “Game of Life” with Chelsea Huggett from WaterAid Australia; Asahel Bush from Plan International Australia; and two audience members at the Melbourne Development Circle event. (Photo – CBM Australia)

Joining Sally Cobb on the panel was Water Aid Australia’s, Equity, Inclusion and Rights Advisor, Chelsea, Plan International representatives; Senior Gender Equality and Inclusion Advisor, Deborah Elkington and Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Officer, Asahel Bush.

Although all panellists have different development focuses, overlapping identities and the challenges they pose, is a common theme in their work.

Chelsea Huggett spoke about how disability and gender intersect with her work in accessible Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH); highlighting the importance of WASH programs in addressing inequalities throughout the whole life cycle, as a person’s identity constantly evolves.

Deborah Elkington and Asahel Bush co-presented a case study on marginalised people, particularly women, young people, and people with a disability, in selected communities in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Uganda – emphasising the need to embrace complexity and recognise multiple inequalities.

Embracing and learning about the local context was reflected in each presentation.

 “Different aspects of identity are created and interact throughout a person’s life – influencing that persons access to rights, opportunities and basic services and ultimately their experience of equality. Therefore organisations like CBM Australia need to be constantly learning about the different dynamics within local contexts.” Sally Cobb concluded.

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