On 29 November, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) hosted an advocacy meeting on the rights of people with disabilities in Johannesburg. The purpose of the meeting was to advance coordination in research, advocacy and litigation relating to disability and socio-economic rights. It was attended by 20 disability activists, lawyers and researchers.
Tim Fish Hodgson (ICJ) opened the meeting with an overview of the Concluding Observations from the Committee on United Nations Covenant on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) with a focus on education and independent living. He argued that international law on the rights of persons with disabilities is currently a lot more advanced than local policies and legislation and is, therefore, a very valuable tool for advocating for these rights.
SERI reflected on the value of media advocacy, focusing on its documentary entitled, The Struggle to Be Ordinary which highlights the challenges women and girls with disabilities living in informal settlements face in accessing sanitation. SERI noted the positive feedback it has received, particularly from government officials, regarding the documentary and the accompanying policy brief which highlight the intersectional nature of challenges affecting the ability for women and girls with disabilities to access basic sanitation safely.
The group also discussed potential joint advocacy strategies on disability and socio-economic rights using the Concluding Observations as a key tool. Some ideas included engaging government on the implementation of the Concluding Observations; using social media to share stories and experiences of persons with disabilities and considering protest action centred on disability rights.