SDDC is a Swiss based network advocating for the rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities in Switzerland's international cooperation.
How can Switzerland ensure the rights of persons with disabilities in the Global South?
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No guidelines, no priority. Switzerland needs guidelines to inform its work on the inclusion of persons with disabilities in its international cooperation. Current efforts on disability inclusion are small scale, ad-hoc and mostly segregating.
Nothing about us, without us! Switzerland must ensure the full and active participation of persons with disabilities throughout all processes affecting them, including in its international cooperation. Arrangements must be made to enable their participation.
What isn’t counted, doesn’t count. Switzerland has committed itself to be a leader on data collection, but it is not systematically collecting and disaggregating data on disability in its international programmes.
Leave no one behind in humanitarian crises. Persons with disabilities are disproportionately affected in humanitarian crises. Switzerland committed itself to making its humanitarian action inclusive of persons with disabilities, but it is not clear how it is living up to its commitment.
What isn’t budgeted for, doesn’t get done. Switzerland must sufficiently budget for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in its international cooperation and must commit itself not to finance programs and services that segregate persons with disabilities from the community.
The civil society report by the Swiss Platform Agenda 2030 on the implementation of the SDGs by Switzerland, was released on June 6, 2022. The Swiss Disability and Development Consortium (SDDC) provided input to the report, particularly around SDG 1 (poverty) and 10 (inequality). The report addresses progress and challenges in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and makes clear recommendations for Switzerland. Because one thing is clear: If Switzerland does not act decisively now, it will have serious consequences for everyone.
The Swiss country progress report on the SDGs does not address the extent to which Switzerland contributes to achieving the inclusion of persons with disabilities within its international cooperation. This is particularly unfortunate because the structure of the country report is promising. In addition to the national context, the international level is always taken into account. However, persons with disabilities globally, are not mentioned.
On 4 May 2022, the My Lens My Reality exhibition was opened at the headquarters of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in Bern. The opening took place within the context of the yearly spring meeting of the SDC with its institutional partners.
“Women with a disability face additional stigma”, said Patricia Danzi, SDC Director, during her opening remarks, highlighting multiple discrimination. Ms. Danzi recognized that more needs to be done within the SDC and its projects abroad to ensure the full inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of life. “In many countires, disabiltiy is visible. In Switzerland, it is less visible.”
Ms. Mirjam Gasser spoke on behalf of SDDC to officially open the exhibition. She presented some key findings from the accompanying Photovoice study. She recalled that Switzerland and specifically, Swiss development cooperation, still has a a long way to go to ensure the full inclusion of persons with disabilities.
The exhibition will remain displayed at the SDC in Bern until 19 May 2022.
Switzerland was reviewed under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities between March 14-16, 2022, in Geneva, Switzerland. The independent experts of the Committee posed questions to Switzerland on progress made on its implementation of the Convention, including numerous questions on international cooperation. Following the review, the Committee released recommendations, also known as ‘Concluding Observations’, which the Swiss Government must now implement and present progress on during the next review in 2028.
Overall, SDDC is pleased with the recommendations made by the Committee. They reflect the remaining gaps for achieving a disability inclusive Swiss development cooperation and reinforce what the SDDC has been calling for time and time again. They demonstrate that Switzerland still has some basic steps to take, notably the adoption of guidelines to ensure that all international cooperation programmes are disability inclusive. The guidelines should serve as a baseline for disability inclusion across all of Switzerland’s development and humanitarian work.
The Committee made recommendations to the Swiss government on the following areas with explicit reference to implementation within Swiss international cooperation and humanitarian action:
- Ensuring the participation of persons with disabilities in strategies and programmes as well as the SDGs (Concluding Observation no. 10a, 62b);
- Mainstreaming the rights of women with disabilities across international cooperation strategies and programmes and ensuring their effective participation (14a, 14b);
- Adopting an action plan to implement the Charter on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action (24b);
- Collecting and disaggregating data on disability in all humanitarian and development programmes (60c);
- Adopting guidelines to ensure that all international cooperation programmes are disability-inclusive (62a);
- Consistently applying the OECD DAC disability marker (62c).
Read more in SDDC’s analysis on International Cooperation