News Feature: Asia Foundation closer in championing, promoting rights of PWDs

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union, Oct 19 (PIA) — Persons with disabilities (PWDs) who often are sidelined during elections have found an ally in Asia Foundation as it started its campaign to champion and promote their rights.

The Asia Foundation, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization committed to the development of a peaceful, prosperous, just, and open Asia-Pacific region began to implement a three year ‘Disability Inclusive Election Program’, a component of a bigger framework which promotes Disability-Inclusive Development thru the support of the Australian Agency for International Development.

The program is in collaboration with PWDs, Disabled People Organizations (DPO), Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, Commission on Elections (Comelec), Local Government Units and other elections-focused Non-Government Organizations to address the PWDs’ needs, concerns and participation for the 2013 midterm election.

It likewise aims to provide recommendations to the Comelec to increase the PWDs access to registration sites and polling places in order to reduce or remove constraints that PWD voters might face.

The areas covered by the program are Legazpi City in Albay, Cotabato City in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Davao City, La Union, Iloilo and Dagupan City as they were identified with high number of Disabled Peoples Organization based on the database of the National Council on Disability Affair.

For region 1, a “Fully Abled Nation” day campaign was launched October 18 this province as part of the project to heighten public awareness of PWD voters’ rights and the importance of voter registration.

The event was attended by the media, PWD leaders, various government offices, non-government organizations (NGO) and civil society groups.

During the event, the Asia Foundation has marked back-to-back advocacy where a presentation of the background of Disability-Inclusive Elections Program and FAN Advocacy campaign materials like audio visual production and radio infomercials were presented.

Disability inclusive programs and updates from the Commission on Elections, National Council on Disability Affairs were also undertaken and likewise, a media forum to promote partnerships to enhance support and awareness of PWD participatory needs.

These efforts while it may not fully address the needs of the PWDs now, are considered a good way to start for the country aspiring to shift closer to being an abled nation.

Moreover, Asia Foundation said they will provide technical assistance on advocacy strategies, financial management, volunteer management and media training for DPOs and NGOs working with PWDs to enhance their participation in the next election and develop PWD-responsive election materials. (ANL/MHH-PIA 1 La Union)

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