Introduction – Grassroots to Global

Rachel Wallbridge and Jane Edge sitting at a conference smiling and waving at the camera.

CBM has a vision of an inclusive world in which all people with disabilities enjoy their human rights and achieve their full potential. For this vision to become a reality, action is needed at all levels, from the grassroots to the global.  That’s why CBM works to bring change across the full development spectrum: in community, national, regional and international contexts.

CBM partners with national and local governments, non-government organisations (NGOs) and disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) to ensure services are delivered and also to strengthen disability inclusion in development and humanitarian programming. Supporting people with disabilities as active participants in achieving a more inclusive and sustainable 2030 is core to our approach; mobilising partners worldwide to ensure that no person with disability is left behind.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) mark a pathway for the global community in which we all play a part.  For people with disabilities, the overarching pledge to ‘leave no one behind’ is more than rhetoric. It is a commitment to ensuring that, by 2030, people with disabilities will no longer experience barriers to improvements in education, employment, access to infrastructure, health, or gender equality. It is, above all, a practical requirement if the new development agenda is to succeed. 

To leave no one behind is an ambitious objective. Yet through existing human rights treaties and frameworks, the international community already has the tools needed to ensure that people with disabilities, women and girls, children and indigenous people, are meaningfully included in development efforts. For people with disability, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in particular provides a roadmap to this collective destination. The CRPD not only supports, but obliges ratifying countries to create more inclusive societies for people with disabilities. The CRPD has an active role to play in guiding the implementation of almost all SDGs, and in shifting ‘leave no one behind’ from rhetoric to reality.

A number of international forums take place in support of the CRPD and SDGs, which provide an important opportunity for civil society organisations to ensure governments and decision makers are hearing the real experiences of people with disabilities and people living in developing countries. International meetings like the annual Conference of States Parties to the CRPD (CoSP), the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) monitoring SDG progress and the planned SDG Summit in September 2019 are where governments, organisations and donors who share CBMs vision for the future are present.

The convening power of these events offer unparalleled opportunities for building partnerships, identifying key needs and sharing resources in order to better achieve our shared goals. CBM takes these opportunities to ensure that we can remain at the forefront of disability inclusive development and provide best practice support to our partners including enabling women and men with disabilities to participate in and directly influence such fora. CBM is a proud supporter of Risna Utami, founder of OHANA Indonesia when we first met her and is now also a United Nations Attaché representing people with disability in Indonesia.

Through CBM’s partnership model, we often help to create spaces and opportunities for people with disabilities to speak in their own words and influence key policy making and programming spaces. Through our grassroots, national and regional connections CBM can help to link people to these opportunities. By building DPOs’ capacity to advocate with national and donor governments, we invest in the power of people telling their story, in their own words, about real change at different levels. When people with disability can’t be in the room, we make their voice heard through resources such as End The Cycle; ensuring that no development actor can say they don’t have access to the experiences of people with disabilities.

CBM seeks to support the disability movement to engage at all levels in order to achieve sustained, far-reaching impact and progress towards an inclusive world. From supporting self-help groups and individual activists at a local level through to partnering with national DPOs in places such as Papua New Guinea, the Pacific Disability Forum at a regional level and international peak bodies like the International Disability Alliance, CBM intentionally builds strong relationships within the disability movement. In India, we’ve supported self-help groups to develop and upskill to build a self-help network and even take control of the programming for their community.

We also know that to achieve sustainable, lasting change for generations to come, we need to invest in future leaders and key advocates from the disability movement across the world. Supporting a diverse range of talented leaders with disabilities ensures that the progress we achieve now can be sustained and built upon by future generations. CBM is proud to have worked with individuals who started in self-help groups and went on to become spokespeople nationally and internationally for people with disability and are achieving important changes for people with disabilities in their communities.

CBM sees a need to advocate nationally, regionally and internationally to ensure commitment to and frameworks like the CRPD and the 2030 Agenda which hold decision makers accountable to their commitments to uphold and progress the rights of people with disabilities and achieving goals like the SDGs. International advocacy has been responsible for important progress in this area many times before, for example it played a crucial role in the development of the CRPD and the 2030 Agenda. These frameworks provide national governments with a cohesive vision for the future, clear objectives to be achieved and provides reporting mechanisms on which to track progress. These can then be used by individuals and grassroots organisation to hold their governments accountable to meeting these commitments. CBM also supports others within the disability movement at a national or subnational level to advocate and report their experiences of this progress.

Inequality is borderless. When the world listens to the one in five people globally who live with disability in poverty, we hear their stories of exclusion, marginalisation and disenfranchisement ringing across all continents. When the world listens, we can change; this is why CBM is committed to raising grassroots voices to be heard at all levels.

Over the coming weeks, CBM will be profiling topics being discussed at national and international forums on disability inclusion. This technical series will showcase the key challenges and learnings behind ensuring people with disability are included in all development efforts, across all sectors.

At CBM, the principle of ‘leave no one behind’ characterises our approach to SDG and CRPD implementation. Grounded in our organisational experience and that of our partners, we seek to ensure that people with disabilities have their voices heard – from grassroots to global levels.

Read more about Grassroots to Global

What is CoSP and why is it important?

CBM’s statement from the CoSP opening ceremony

Digital Accessibility

Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID)

Making Inclusion A Reality!

Disability Data