Call For Applications: OSI Special Initiatives Disability Rights Grant Guidelines.
Eighty percent of the estimated 600 million people living with disabilities reside in the developing world. The vast majority of these people are marginalized and are disproportionately poor. In many places, people with disabilities have virtually no access to services, and in some countries many spend their lives confined to institutions.
The OSI Disability Rights Initiative seeks to address discrimination against people with disabilities and promote their inclusion in society by supporting a rights-based approach to disability. Building on the momentum and opportunity created by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the initiative supports civil society to build networks and mobilize campaigns that advance disability rights through advocacy for ratification and for implementation of this new human rights instrument. The program provides funding for national and global advocacy efforts that galvanize constituencies and engage new partners to develop rights-based strategies to implement the CRPD. The initiative gives priority to efforts that envision collaboration across movements and sectors, combine monitoring and documentation with advocacy and litigation, and seek to strengthen rights protections and remedies.
The CRPD, which entered into force in May 2008, provides a powerful instrument for activists seeking to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. The Convention frames disability not as something inherent to a person but as a social construct that “results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.” The OSI Disability Rights Initiative aims to break down these obstacles by supporting efforts that take on the following issues:
Equal Recognition Before the Law and Access to Justice
Full legal capacity is fundamental to the enjoyment of other human rights and vital for the meaningful implementation of the CRPD. Legal regimes which deny persons with disabilities visibility in the eyes of the law deprive them of their equal right to make their own decisions and live their lives accordingly. These legal inequities are amplified by justice systems which are inaccessible to people with disabilities and fail to provide remedies for rights violations. The Disability Rights Initiative funds projects that address the treatment of people with disabilities by justice systems, particularly people with psycho-social and intellectual disabilities and the elderly, by exposing rights violations, providing support and legal assistance and advocating for systemic changes. This includes efforts that promote effective mechanisms for supported decision-making and improved access to justice.
Living in the Community
Having legal capacity to make choices for oneself is a beginning, but it must be accompanied by respecting the choices that persons make and especially their right to live independently and be included in the community. The Disability Rights Initiative gives priority to projects that seek to ensure that people with disabilities have the opportunity to choose their place of residence and access a range of services to accommodate and support their life choices. The program supports efforts that document policies and practices that curtail the ability of people with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in the community, seek redress for violations and advocate for necessary policy changes to ensure compliance with the CRPD. Projects that work in collaboration with other groups facing similar obstacles to independent living, such as the elderly, to create partnerships and to share experience will be given priority.
Discrimination in Education and Employment
Globally, one-third of all children excluded from primary education are disabled, such that over 90 percent of children with disabilities in developing countries are excluded from the formal education system. Figures for employment are also distressing. In the 30 countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, for example, unemployment rates among disabled adults are 80 percent higher than those for non-disabled adults. Inequality in education and employment undermines efforts to promote independence as well as inclusion in the economic and social life of the community. Such inequality both reflects and amplifies the effects of other kinds of disadvantage. The Disability Rights Initiative funds projects that include monitoring, advocacy and litigation to combat policies and practices that exclude people with disabilities from the general education system and labor market and advocate for necessary policy changes to ensure compliance with the CRPD.
Rights of Women with Disabilities
Women and girls with disabilities face multiple forms of discrimination. They are more likely to be victims of abuse and exclusion than women and girls without disability: they will more often encounter violence and exploitation, discrimination in the enforcement of laws and inequalities in opportunity. Often the violence and abuse goes unpunished. The Disability Rights Initiative supports advocates working to advance the rights of women and girls with disabilities by documenting the inequalities they experience, challenging policy failures that perpetuate multiple forms of discrimination, advocating for necessary policy changes to ensure compliance with the CRPD and campaigning for greater representation of women and girls with disabilities in policy debates that affect their rights.
Grant Guidelines: Building New Partnerships
Ratification and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will ultimately be a matter for national governments, and in most cases national civil society groups will be the engine of that process. Though international groups play an important role highlighting issues, setting agendas and supporting campaigns, local groups, through a combination of engagement and critique, will have to keep the pressure on governments not only to ratify, but also to continue prioritizing disability rights in the policy reform process. The Disability Rights Initiative gives priority to projects that elevate the inclusion of disability rights on national human rights agendas and mainstream disability rights throughout the policy process.
The drafting of the Convention fostered considerable momentum within the disability rights movement, bringing together a range of actors working across disability and coming from a variety of perspectives. The CRPD provides a unifying purpose to this diverse community of stakeholders and lays the groundwork for reaching out to other movements and to vulnerable groups. The Disability Rights Initiative seeks to encourage this collaboration across sectors and movements in each of its thematic priorities in order to stimulate rights-based strategies for advancing ratification, policy innovation and effective implementation mechanisms. The program will consider the extent to which projects reach out to new partners and actively engage marginalized populations in the design and implementation of campaigns. Efforts will be prioritized that identify allies from other movements and sectors, including mainstream human rights NGOs, academia, governmental agencies such as equality bodies, law reform bodies, or National Human Rights Institutions. While the shape and nature of networks will differ across countries and issues, examples of these kinds of partnerships might include:
- projects from disability rights groups that revitalize their membership, expand their constituencies and identify new partnerships in order to address one or more of the thematic issues identified above;
- projects that engage disability-focused organizations and human rights organizations in documenting human rights violations and advocating for protections to advance the implementation of the CRPD in the stated priority areas;
- civil society efforts that facilitate access to expertise and promote debate among policy-makers, monitor government commitments, report on failures, pursue litigation and engage in advocacy at the national and international levels; and
- national advocacy campaigns in each of the four thematic areas that engage a range of actors from across civil society, including partnerships with policy researchers and academics as appropriate.
To apply for a grant from the OSI Disability Rights Initiative, interested organizations should send a two- to three-page concept paper to firstname.lastname@example.org. The paper should include the following:
- a brief description of the project goals and planned activities;
- information about the applicant organization and project partners;
- an estimated overall budget and timeframe of the project.
The initiative will aim to respond to concept papers within one month of receipt. Selected applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal for consideration. Funding decisions will generally take up to two months from the submission of a full proposal and budget, depending upon the size and complexity of the funding request.
The initiative will not fund the provision of direct services, apart from legal advocacy services. It will, however, support efforts to highlight or advocate for effective service delivery programs or to make changes in the legal framework that would facilitate service delivery.