Academics from Bournemouth University have launched a new project designed to grow the power of young disability rights activists in East and Central Africa.
The project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, includes a new advocacy and research network and a programme of knowledge exchange events between disability advocates, academics, campaigning organisations, and the media.
The network convened its first meeting, the Festival of Disability Advocacy, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from 17th to 20th April. The event, which was officially opened by Mr Rasheed Mafta, Director of Persons with Disability Unit in the Office of the Prime Minster, welcomed youths with disabilities, campaign experts, journalists, and academics from Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda, as well as the UK and US.
Principal Investigator Professor Dan Jackson said, “This project aims to equip a new generation of disability advocates with the tools, skills, and resources to build powerful movements for change.
“They will be supported by a new network of key players and events designed to help them campaign for policies which consider the needs of disabled people and challenge the stigma of disability.”
The BU-led Festival of Disability Advocacy has already proved to be a catalyst for change. In its opening comments, the government announced the release of 3 billion Tanzanian shillings towards construction of three new disability-accessible colleges.
The newly-established network – Youth Disability Advocacy and Research (YDAR) – is led by Bournemouth University, ADD International, and American University with members including the University of Dar es Salaam, Humanity and Inclusion, Youth for Road Safety, and the Global Alliance of NGOs for Road Safety.
Youths with disabilities in East and Central Africa face a range of challenges including limited access to education and employment as well as cultural stigmatisation.
A series of online knowledge exchange workshops will run from May 2023 to February 2024.