Read about DRF's latest updates and discover our grantees' impact in advancing disability rights around the world!

 DRF Newsletter - January 2016
  Dear fellow advocates, friends, supporters and colleagues,
Happy 2016! We begin our ninth year of work on the heels of  a very successful and exciting 2015 , which brought progress and positive change not just within our organization, but across the global disability community. As we work on our 2015 Annual Report, we invite you to view a digital copy of our 2014 Annual Report: "Our Voices, Our Rights, Our Future" to find out more about our work. (Please  click here for a Word version of the Report.)
One of the global disability community's greatest achievements in 2015 was the inclusion of concrete references to persons with disabilities in the new global development framework - Agenda 2030 and the 
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) . The SDGs, published in September 2015, include 9 specific references of persons with disabilities , including in goals on education, growth & employment, inequality, sustainable cities, and data and monitoring, and are touted as the most inclusive global development framework in history, with a commitment to "leave no one behind." Inclusion of persons with disabilities in this global development framework is not only a sign of growing global awareness that development goals cannot be reached without including those most marginalized, including the one billion persons with disabilities, it is also a ground-breaking agreement between governments and multi-stakeholders to do differently and do better.
Another exciting achievement at global levels was the passage of the first-ever disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction Framework - the Sendai Framework . This achievement acknowledges that persons with disabilities are among those most at risk in disasters - as we learned tragically in the U.S. during Hurricane Katrina - and sets out pathways for inclusion. DRF grantees are at the forefront already, as they work in the Pacific, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Haiti and Uganda to ensure that there are disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Management programs in place.  
As we begin the first year of SDG implementation and the 10th year following adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), DRF is expanding the work we've done with our grantees in 32 countries across the world to secure access to rights - most importantly the right to active participation - for persons with disabilities. We are also building on our leadership in resourcing and supporting the disability community's most marginalized groups, including indigenous persons ; women , LGBTQI persons with disabilities, people with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities, and rural people with disabilities - who face multiple forms of discrimination within their communities.
With your continued support, we're looking forward to another year of progress in making sure everyone counts.
Diana Samarasan
Executive Director
News from around DRF
DRF program staff holds annual retreat in San Francisco

The Disability Rights Fund's program  staff held a series of staff meetings and trainings  in San Francisco from 18 - 22 January. DRF's geographically-distributed staff flew in from their bases across the world to take part in the week-long series, which began with a two-day training conducted by DRF partner, the  International Disability Alliance (IDA) , and the  International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC)  on  Agenda 2030  and the new  Sustainable Development Goals . IDA and IDDC trainers helped DRF staff understand how to support DPOs to use the  UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)  as a guiding instrument to ensure SDG implementation, follow up and monitoring leaves no one behind.
Following the training, DRF staff held a strategic planning session to progress the organization's next Strategic Plan in light of the SDGs.
A highlight of the week's events was DRF's participation in the  International Human Rights Funders Group (IHRFG)'s 2016 San Francisco Conference held on 21-22 January. Founding Executive Director, Diana Samarasan, co-facilitated a session with other grantmakers, entitled," Participation Is Key-But How? Working Through Common Challenges in Participatory Grantmaking," which addressed the "how" of participatory grantmaking. Members of the Program Team also attended the " Responsible Data For Human Rights Funders Forum" on 19 January as well as the "2016 Human Rights Lab on Responding to Closing Space for Civil Society," a single-day workshop designed to encourage innovative solutions to address the closing space for civil society around the world.
The DRF delegation ended their visit to San Francisco by spending a day at the  Ed Roberts Center at University of California Berkeley to meet with colleagues at the  Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) to discuss successful rights advocacy strategies and learn from DREDF's ADA civil rights successes.  
DRF welcomes new staff member: Jo-Ann Garnier Lafontant

DRF is pleased to officially welcome Jo-Ann Garnier Lafontant as our new Haiti Grants Consultant. Joann has over a decade of experience supporting civil society in Haiti to promote the rights of children, including children with disabilities and to provide technical support to the government on rights and inclusion of marginalized groups.  
For the past four years, Jo-Ann served as Executive Director for enpaK, a Haitian NGO promoting the rights of children in Haiti, including children with disabilities. At enpaK, Jo-Ann worked with government and international agencies on strategies for realizing the rights enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to ensure all children are included in education and social development programs. Jo-Ann worked with the office of the Secretary of the State for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities to develop a communication strategy to popularize the Law on the Integration of Persons with Disabilities including the development of an easy-to-read version of the law in Creole. Prior to this, she worked for Plan International in Haiti for over eight years working on child rights issues and promoting the rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities as well as other marginalized groups.  
Jo-Ann has built strong relationships with civil society actors in Haiti, including leading DPOs, as well as with government stakeholders, donors and international development agencies. She is on several national platforms for rights and development issues in Haiti and traveled extensively throughout the country meeting with grassroots organizations. Jo-Ann has a law degree from the Faculty of Law and Economic Sciences of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Creole is her native language and she speaks English and French fluently.   

DRF Grantees in the News
Haitian grantees submit report on rights of women with disabilities

Two DRF grantees from Haiti, Association Filles au Soleil (AFAS) and Union des Femmes Union des Femmes à Mobilité Réduite d'Haïti (UFMORH), submitted an alternative report to the Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) as part of the treaty body's 63rd session in which Haiti's progress towards CEDAW implementation will be reviewed.  
AFAS and UFMORH are women-led DPOs in Haiti working to promote the rights of women and girls with disabilities. Both organizations were formed by young women activists to address the rights deprivations women and girls with disabilities face that are not being acknowledged by the human rights movements in Haiti.  
The alternative report highlights the barriers women and girls with disabilities face in accessing their rights. DRF Grants Consultant for Haiti, Jo-Ann Garnier Lafontant supported the organizations in the drafting process, and the International Disability Alliance (IDA) provided technical inputs and guidance on the final draft. Representatives from AFAS and UFMOH will travel to Geneva to attend the Committee review of Haiti and take part in the civil society dialogues.  
The two delegates will also participate in a training led by International Women's Rights Action Watch - Asia Pacific (IWRAW AP), an NGO that coordinates civil society dialogues with the CEDAW Committee.  
This is the first time these two organizations participated in the human rights monitoring process, and we congratulate them on addressing the rights of women with disabilities in Haiti on a global level.  Find out more by clicking here.

AFAS advocates for inclusive national gender equality policy

Association Filles au Soleil (AFAS), with support from DRF, is advocating for inclusion of women and girls with disabilities in the national gender equality policy being drafted in Haiti. The launch of their 12-month advocacy campaign took place in December 2015 at the Office of the Secretary of State on the Integration of People with Disabilities, and aims to include women with disabilities within the new policy as well as in all facets of Haitian society.  Please click here for the full story in French: