Blog by Melanie Kawano-Chiu
We are stepping into 2024 with learning on our mind.
At the Disability Rights Fund (DRF), we recognize that how we learn and unlearn will hold us accountable to achieve our feminist vision for inclusion. Last year, DRF commissioned a 3-year external evaluation of our grantmaking in Nigeria, Indonesia, and Fiji. We are excited to share this Spotlight on Fiji, a Pacific nation where DRF has resourced the disability rights movement since 2009.
Our evaluation confirmed our assumptions: It affirmed feedback gleaned from grantees that DRF’s funding played a role in the advocacy of disability-inclusive COVID-19 response and improved the political participation of persons with disabilities during the 2022 elections. In response to the challenges posed by the pandemic, DRF awarded a grant to the Fijian Disabled Peoples Federation (FDPF), a national cross-disability umbrella organization, to lead a survey to collect data on the lived experiences of persons with disabilities. The survey results revealed the palpable impact of the pandemic on their livelihoods, health, and education, building evidence to advocate for a more inclusive and disability data-based national and community response from the Fiji government.
Our funding also equipped FDPF to create the Election Disability Access Working Group. The Group would go on to advocate successfully for the inclusion of postal voting for persons with disabilities who could not access polling stations and more!
“These achievements signify progress towards a more inclusive society where persons with disabilities have equal opportunities, participation, and access to essential services and decision-making processes,” shared a grantee with the evaluators.
The significance of these achievements extends beyond these wins. Our evaluation confirmed the importance of resourcing peer learnings and connections. It’s heartening to know the advocacy wins of Fiji’s disability movement now serve as a powerful precedent, creating a foundation for future inclusive policies.
I extend our gratitude to you all for being on this journey with us. To delve deeper into our impactful work in Fiji, read the Spotlight here. And, #ICYMI: You can read our Spotlights for Nigeria and Indonesia here.
Here’s to our collective learning!