Merging Women’s Rights and Disability Rights Movements

Channel grantee partner Mobility International USA (MIUSA) and global women’s rights organization MADRE released a Practice Note in March 2021 titled, Merging Movements: Supporting Inclusive Women’s Rights Work through Innovative Partnerships, which traces their efforts on merging women’s rights and disability rights movements through an innovative two-year partnership.

“Women are women. If you serve women, you need to serve all women, and you should always expect to have disabled women and girls. This is non-negotiable.” These words, shared by senior-level MADRE staff by the end of a training, reflected a clear and bold shift in thinking had taken place, especially for an organization where most staff had very limited or no prior experience with disability rights issues.

MADRE wanted to ensure disability inclusion was at the core of their values and principles, so they reached out to MIUSA, a disability-led organization, to provide strategic consulting. As part of the Commitment to Inclusive Excellence Initiative, MIUSA conducted trainings with staff in MADRE’s New York office and provided technical assistance to develop disability inclusion action plans.  MADRE also attended MIUSA’s Gender, Disability and Development Institute (GDDI), and the two organizations have collaborated in several other capacities.  From participant recruitment to donor education, MADRE has completely transformed its approach toward disability inclusion.

This partnership culminated in the recently released Practice Note where MIUSA and MADRE share their progress and learning trajectory, as well as recommendations for other development organizations and funders interested in making disability inclusion a strategic priority.

Leading by example, and even though every part of the organization may not be 100% accessible yet, MADRE has concrete action plans and timelines set toward ensuring women with disabilities are fully included as beneficiaries and leaders in everything they do. MIUSA and MADRE plan to continue to work together to do meaningful international human rights work.

The Practice Note is available in a short version and a long version.