The Much-Needed Space for DPOs’ Participation

KSIxChange #30 discuss on the important role in ensuring the fulfilment of rights of persons with disabilities in the development process

Disabled persons organizations (DPOs) play an important role in ensuring the fulfilment of rights of persons with disabilities in the development process. However, to play such role effectively,  DPOs have to be provided with ample space to participate in every stage of development.

That was one of the topics in KSIxChange #30 which was held online by the Knowledge Sector Initiative (KSI) with the theme "The Role of Disabled Persons Organizations in Post-COVID-19 Development" on Wednesday (02/12). The speakers for this event included the Executive Director of the Indonesian Disability Movement Foundation for Equality (PerDIK) Abdul Rahman, the Chairperson of the Disability Care Network and the Research and Development Analyst of the Regional Planning Agency (Bapppeda) of Padang City, West Sumatra, Antoni Tsaputra, Person with Mental Disabilities Assisted by the YAKKUM Rehabilitation Center Desty Endah Nurmalasari, Deputy Director of the Advocacy Center for Women with Disabilities and Children (SAPDA) Fatum Ade, Chair of the Indonesian Association of Women with Disabilities (HWDI) Maulani A Rotinsulu, and Chair of the Center for Improving Qualified Activity in Live of People with Dissabilities (CIQAL) Foundation Nuning Suryaningsih. The Director of Advocacy and Network of the Indonesian Center for Law and Policy Studies (PSHK) Fajri Nursyamsi moderated the event which was broadcasted live on the Youtube Asumsi channel.                                       

This event was opened by the Expert Staff of the Minister for Social Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Ministry of National Development Planning / Bappenas, Vivi Yulaswati. In her opening speech, Vivi said that the impact of the COVID-19 case, which was still ongoing, occurred in all sectors, including the economy. This situation aggravated the vulnerability of persons with disabilities. The government had issued various social safety net and economic strengthening programs. These programs were to be continuously improved. In this context, DPOs played an important role in assisting persons with disabilities to survive amid the pandemic.

HWDI Chairman Maulani A Rotinsulu said that DPOs had been actively communicating with the government who was the primary actor of development in the country. Ideally, DPOs should act as the government’s partners who can participate meaningfully in every stage of development to ensure alignment of the program with the aspirations and needs of persons with disabilities. However, this was often not practiced in reality. In the process of drafting regulations and policies, for example, he often found that some regulations and policies were made without prior consultation with the relevant DPOs. As a result, the content of these products did not align with the needs of persons with disabilities. “Some DPOs may have been updated when a regulation or policy has been amended, but most of them are not. So we feel neglected, "he said.

In line with that, the Chairman of CIQAL Foundation, Nuning Suryaningsih said that the political rights of persons with disabilities had not been fairly and equitably fulfilled although this is actually mandated by the law. In the context of elections, for example, the needs of vulnerable groups and persons with disabilities have not been fully considered and met. In fact, some persons with disabilities were not included in the voter list as their presence was often not acknowledged. When voting was conducted, the needs of persons with disabilities were not really anticipated, making it difficult for them to exercise their political rights. Incidents occurred because election administration did not involve DPOs in the preparation process.

The lack of involvement of DPOs in development was also highlighted by Deputy Director of SAPDA Fatum Ade. Based on SAPDA research in the Yogyakarta Province, the pandemic had hit hard the livelihood of people with disabilities. Many of them lost their jobs. Instead of finding a solution, the government passed the Job Creation Law, which did not support efforts to fulfill the rights of persons with disabilities. The Law was drafted without prior consultation with persons with disabilities. "This law eliminates the rights of persons with disabilities to be provided with accessibility facilities in buildings. Regarding employment, what (this Law) prioritizes is market flexibility, not accommodating persons with disabilities," he said.

Desty Endah Nurmalasari mentee at the YAKKUM Rehabilitation Center said, as she was actively involved in two organizations for people with disabilities in her village, she was invited to participate in development planning meetings in the village several times. However, she felt that she was not given the opportunity to participate in formulating village policies like other meeting participants. Also, she felt that job opportunities for persons with disabilities like her were very limited because they were considered incapable to work. In fact, provided with equal opportunities, she was sure she would be able to perform well.

The Need for Space

Antoni Tsaputra shared his observations while living in Australia. As a person with a disability, Antoni was connected to a number of DPOs in the State of New South Wales. He saw that DPOs in this country played a very important role in determining the direction of government policies regarding service inclusiveness. DPOs fully participated in planning, implementation up to the policy evaluation process. This was due to the fact that all DPOs in the region were given the widest possible space for participation and resource support, either in the form of financial support or access to funding. "DPOs did not only demand that they should be actively involved, but they asked to be provided with the widest possible space for participation," he said.

The space and the resources support brought significant impact during the pandemic. In Australia, DPOs play a major role in delivering an inclusive pandemic policy response. They can quickly develop health protocols for children with disabilities, guidelines for the provision of health services for patients with disabilities, guidelines for priority services from supermarkets for registered disabled persons and so on.

With this regard, DPOs in various regions in Indonesia, according to him, need to strengthen their position as government's equal partners who can influence development policies. “They have to be able to say no if they are only used as an object of the program and an extension of the government’s hand," he said. 

Executive Director of the Indonesian Disability Movement Foundation for Equality (PerDIK) Abdul Rahman said that his organization has played an active role in development planning in Makassar City, South Sulawesi. Together with other DPOs, they were actively involved in proposing and ensuring that the needs of persons with disabilities be accommodated in development and the necessary budget for such inclusion be allocated. They will also be involved in the preparation of the 5 year plan that will be held by Makassar City Bappeda in 2021. "The role of DPOs is important, so they need to be involved in the community meetings (musrenbang) in all levels:  from the city, sub-district up to village (RT/RW) level," he said.

Closing the interactive session, Fajri Nursyamsi Director of Advocacy and Network of PSHK, emphasized that issues related provision of space for persons with disabilities in public domain was paramount to the enforcement of existing regulations that promote the concept of equality. So far, the regulations had not been supported by a comprehensive understanding of the concept of accommodation for persons with disabilities. Therefore, DPOs play an important role in documenting each phase of the struggle carried out by DPOs as part of the production of knowledge and learning in the future.

KSIxChange #30 was an interactive discussion that brought together policy makers, organizations of persons with disabilities and policy research institutions, namely the Ministry of National Development Planning/Bappenas, Padang City Bappeda, SAPDA, YAKKUM Rehabilitation Center, HWDI, CIQAL Foundation, PerDIK Foundation. It was held to commemorate the International Disability Day 2020 which adopted a theme related to the role of organizations of persons with disabilities in the context of post-COVID-19 development in Indonesia.

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