Accessible Jordan, Radio Shams, Rubbish Artist of Zarzis and Universal Values

Hello,

This week, we turn our attention to some wonderful initiatives and leaders in North Africa and the Middle East.

  • Ms Aya Aghabi (pictured above) founded the website page “Accessible Jordan” in 2017 and now has over 33,000 places listed in terms of their accessibility to People with Disabilities.  In her own words, “my hope is that this website encourages the Jordanian government and all business owners to work on the accessibility of spaces to make Jordan inclusive for all people.  I also hope that this website will make it easier for people with disabilities from all around the world to come and visit Jordan.”  You can read more about Aya’s initiative in a piece from Arab Weekly here.

 

  • Shams Rad is a radio station in Tunisia known as the Arab world’s only LGBT radio station and broadcasts across 15 countries in the region.  Read more about the station in a BBC article here and follow their Facebook page here.

 

  • Still in Tunisia, Al-Jazeera has a great feature called “The Rubbish Artist of Zarzis” about the remarkable story of Mr Mohsen Lihidheb, a former Post Office worker who has dedicated his life to preserving the Environment and promoting human rights for Refugees, Women and other disadvantaged groups.

 

  • We also honour and celebrate the life of Mr Raed Fares, former radio host/ Manager (Radio Fresh FM) and activist from Syria who was gunned down on 23 November 2018 in Idlib Province. Read about him here

    ”Take his response to another of the powerful jihadist group, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham/JFS’s demands, to get rid of women news readers – who are also haram, they say. Has he, I ask him, agreed to swap the women for men? “No, I have another solution for that issue. We simply put their voices through a computer software program which makes them sound like men.”

  • Finally, from Yemen. Please take a few minutes to listen to a beautiful Tedx talk by Ms Zuha Al-Hammadi  on Universal Values here … The video is in Arabic – for subtitles in English, please click the cc icon at the bottom right-hand corner of the you tube screen after you have pressed play. Enjoy!

 

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Embracing the Other

I hope you are enjoying 2019 so far. Thank you again for your support over the past few years!

What are we looking at this January?

  • A TED talk by Claudia Gordon on owning and embracing otherness. Claudia, the first deaf black female attorney in the United States, beautifully shares on how we can be more authentic, and at peace with our our self. ‘I resist objectification as the other, I also embrace it…’

Claudia Gordon, a native of Jamaica West Indies, graduated with honors from Howard University in Washington, DC in 1995 and went on to complete law school with honors at American University’s Washington College of Law in 2000. She recounts her childhood in the West Indies, her search for identity while grappling with audism in a hearing college, and her ongoing quest to create spaces in society for seldom-heard voices. Claudia Gordon is a Director of Government and Compliance with Sprint Accessibility.

  • We would also love to share an insightful research by RADAID Research, available here.  The research confronts a major issue; how can we share dignified images and information on the people and communities we work with and still secure funding or gain traction in our advocacy? How can we do better?

Questions to Consider when using Peoples Images

  • Lastly, Rasna Warah confronts white privilege and issue based activism that ignores the political context in her article Visas, Africanists and White Privilege. ‘When poverty, underdevelopment or human rights abuses are depoliticised – i.e. taken out of the realm of politics – they become problems that have technical, not political, solutions’. Read the article here
  • We would love it if you could take a few minutes of your time to complete our Survey HERE . Your feedback is invaluable to help us to improve Embrace Everyone for better impact.  Many thanks!

Thanks for your support in 2018

Asanteni… Murakoze … አመሰግናለሁ … Merci… Obrigado… E dupe… Takk skal du ha…. Na gode… Gracias… Enkosi… Daalu …. Thank you …. धन्यवाद …. شكرا جزيلا …. Danke.. Siyabonga … شکریہ …. Kea Leboga .. Dank ye

This year we have had almost 2,500 views of the blog, giving us an overall total of just over 5,000 since we started in 2015. We have had readers in over 100 countries on all continents and are very proud of the global nature of the blog, whilst our roots are very firmly in Africa. Thank you for being part of the Embrace Everyone family!

Readers Survey

We would like to request you to share some feedback about the blog, which will help us to improve it for the future. You can access the survey here

We love hearing from you! As always, if you have additional comments and/or contributions, please write to us through socialinclusion4all@gmail.com

Nobel Peace Prize Winners

Earlier this year, we featured Dr. Denis Mukwege from D.R. Congo as one of our Social Inclusion Champions – he was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with Nadia Murad from Iraq, who have both worked tirelessly to expose the crimes of Sexual Violence as a weapon of war.

Please read more about both of them, including some embedded videos, in this Guardian piece here and see more in our earlier piece on Dr. Denis here

Finally, some great recommendations for holiday season reading from The Guardian’s Gary Younge in his piece: My Year of Reading African Women

Happy holidays! See you in 2019…..

Human Rights Day 2018 – Highlights

Today on this Human Rights day (10 December) we marked the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The day also marks the end of the 16 days of activism against Gender Based Violence.  How are we tracking on all these? And a simpler question, what has impacted you the most during these last 16 days?

We will share a few posts that have resonated with us.

  • An interview by Dr Mercy Korir and persons with vitiligo in Kenya (KTN News). What struck us was how open and vulnerable the young people were in responding to the questions raised, and how society has shown rejection rather than inclusion and acceptance. We can be better, do better.

 

  • The #In Her Shoes# campaign by HIVOS East Africa on Ending Gender Based Violence. The images were vivid and spoke loudly. Below are two images from the campaign.

 

  • And last but not least, an inclusion campaign by CBM Australia to mark the International Day of Persons with Disability 2018 with the theme #Dont Underestimate Me#

2018 World AIDS Day and The International Day for Persons with Disability

Over the next few days we will be marking two pivotal days; the World AIDS day today and the International Day for Persons with Disability (IDPWD) on 3 December. These will happen concurrently within the 16 days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence that runs from 25 November to 10 December every year.

World AIDS Day:Today marks the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day, set to raise awareness about HIV and the HIV epidemic. UNAIDS notes that 940,000 died from AIDS related illness in 2017, despite advances in medical treatment. This  represents a 51 per cent drop from its peak of 1.9 million in 2004.

2018 theme: Know your status

There are currently 36.9 million people living with HIV around the world, 1.8 million of whom are children aged under 15 and another 1.8 million who are newly infected every year.

Of this, 21.7 million are currently accessing antiretroviral therapy which is up by eight million since 2010, an indication of increased awareness and  more proactive testing and treatment.

The International Day of Persons with Disability (IDPWD) is marked annually on 3 December. The theme for 2018 is ‘Empowering Persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality’. The focus of the theme is on inclusive, equitable and sustainable development envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDG).

Food for thought on this IDPWD 2018

Finally as we mark these days, the concept of intersectionality comes up.
The Intersectional theory asserts that people are often disadvantaged by multiple sources of oppression: their race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and other identity markers. Intersectionality comes up as we mark these days, because evidence shows that women with disabilities are more vulnerable to gender based abuse and at higher risk of exposure to HIV and AIDS. Persons living with HIV or AIDS are also at risk of disability on a permanent or episodic basis as a result of their condition.

More about intersectionality on this cartoon video below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRiWgx4sHGg

 

 

Why Diversity & Inclusion Matter

See the source image

Diversity and Inclusion is often perceived as a “nice extra” but not necessarily essential to the success of an organisation or company.  A growing body of research is, however, also developing a strong business case for Workplace Inclusion in addition to the moral and ethical imperative.

Catalyst (Workplaces that Work for Women) has compiled a detailed summary of this business case and this can be viewed here.   Evidence is presented here that workplace Inclusion has positive impacts on Teamwork, Leadership, Financial Performance and Innovation, among others.

Specific evidence from India on the business case for Inclusion is also detailed in a 2010 report entitled “How Companies in India are leveraging the Business Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion.”

MARC (Men Advocating for Real Change) is a learning community created by Catalyst for professionals committed to achieving equality in the workplace. MARC empowers community members, both men and women, to engage in candid conversations about gender and inequality, its impact in the workplace, and how to lead change through member-generated advice, insights, and best practices.  Please also check the Catalyst page on Men and Equality.

Finally, we would like to encourage everyone to take ACTION to promote Inclusion in their workplace (and other aspects of their lives).  You can get many practical ideas from this lovely piece called 50+ Ideas for Cultivating Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace.

 

Disability as an Attitude: A disabling Attitude? by Georgina Mumba


Disability is not inability. Disability is only in the mind. Do not call me disabled but a woman living with a disability. Do not call me visually impaired, I prefer being called blind. Disability is the interaction of impairments with the environment and people’s attitudes. These are some of the many positions people hold on the subject of disability. As a woman with a disability myself, I understand some of the challenges we face as a community and how we wish the rest of the world would interact with our disabilities and us as hosts of such disabilities. However, it is increasingly becoming obvious that ‘disability’ feels like a bad word and people are trying their hardest to disassociate with it.

 

First of all, in my view, from my lived experience no one can voluntarily elect to be disabled. There is absolutely nothing advantageous about being disabled in my view. Borrowing from the school of thought that disability is the interaction between an impairment, the environment and people’s attitudes I wish to paraphrase that indeed a disability is a limitation or a host of physical, health and/or mental limitations at a personal, environmental and in the interactions with people level. That collation of disadvantages to me is why I am of the opinion that nobody would voluntarily elect to be disabled because a disability is a key to all kinds of disadvantages more so in some forms, spaces, economic groups, genders etc.

However, the bone of contention with disability has always been about mankind’s feelings about disability and how those feelings spill over to the treatment of the host of the disability. I applaud the schools of thought that have done tremendous work in bringing us to today’s terminology of people living with disabilities because it is important to distinguish how we view disability and how we treat the hosts. By and large, disabilities negatively impact people’s lives and it is fine to be wary of that. It is fine to make efforts to prevent disabilities if we can. But how do we separate our contempt for disability, for lack of a better word, from the host? How do we positively have dialogue about the ills of disability without injuring the host? How do we attempt to manage disability without inferring we feel the host is a burden and throw them in a depressive mode? How do we encourage positive self-image of a disability host without pressuring them into a radical divorce from ‘disability’?

 

So why does it sometimes feel like disability is a bad word? Why are people with disabilities made to feel like besides trying to adapt to realities of living with a disability they must always endeavour to wash themselves clean of any association with disability? Why do we seem to be pushing mantras like a ‘disability is only in the mind’. Or the only disability is a bad attitude.’ Some people would go as far promoting the idea that it’s possible to have a disability but not be ‘disabled’. I applaud those who are disabled but declare they do not see themselves as disabled. If that thinking is empowering for them that is fine except when it starts becoming the gold standard of living with a disability. When it creates the impression disability is an attitude. In my view, that is condescending.

Disability is as real as daylight. The environment and people’s attitudes do play a very significant role in how it impacts someone’s impairment. As someone who is physically disabled, my environment plays a big role on how mobile I can manage to be. How independent I can be. And people’s attitudes toward my limitations similarly influence the scope of impact of my impairments on my life at large. What never goes away is the impairment. I am still physically challenged and that impairs me and at times, drains me too. I cannot psych myself out of that truth. Surely, my attitude too plays a big role but only to endure it. Not make it disappear. After a long day of endurance in my wheelchair I will go home and still face the pain of subjecting my impaired body to long hours in the wheelchair coupled with the impacts of transfers, bumpy roads etc. No amount of positive thinking, support system and modified assistive devices can take that away completely. Therefore, unless I can jump out of my wheelchair, walk and have every impaired bit of me restored, my disability just doesn’t disappear based on my own attitude, public attitudes and environmental adjustments. All these things help but only to reduce the scale of impact of the impairment on the lives of people with disabilities.

I wish I could say I am proudly disabled. To me there is nothing to be proud or ashamed of by virtue of being disabled. I have limitations that I did not consciously seek. It just is the way things are. I, Georgina Mumba, am a host of paraplegia. I host the impairment and the consequences that come with it. How I adapt to this reality is a whole other conversation. How society treats me as a host of my disability is, too, another conversation. What I take pride in every so often is the victories I realise in my quest to make the most of an unfortunate reality. I celebrate my achievements in spaces where my disability significantly negatively influences and in those times I prove wrong those with unhealthy attitudes towards me as a host of a disability.

So, is disability such a bad word that we must fear being associated with it? Should disability be used as a shaming word? What is the policy on successfully living with a disability? How can we allow people to acknowledge themselves and their disabilities without making them feel anxious about how that speaks to their attitudes? How do we not make people with disabilities feel our acknowledgement and celebration of their being and efforts are strictly dependent on their radical divorce from disability? This is not to mean there is nothing to be said about healthy and unhealthy attitudes towards management of a disability. The universe clearly hands some crappy cards but that does not mean we must throw our hands in the air and throw away even the little we can do with our abilities. That part is in one’s best interest as it is in the general community’s.

As a woman with a disability my challenge in life is, I often wonder how well am I managing my disability and how well am I doing just as a human being? Every so often there is a video, a link or just a reference about an inspirational disabled person and I wonder if I am adapting as successfully as those of our celebrated colleagues? I hear of people who used their disability as impetus to shatter in numerous glass ceilings and I wonder what we think of those whose limitations are exactly the very barriers determining the ceilings of their dreams?
Is disability really an attitude? Or that in itself is a disabling attitude?

Georgina Mumba is a Statistician by profession, a blogger and a Disability Inclusion Advocate and Consultant based in Lusaka Zambia. You can access a Ted Talk by Gina Mumba https://embraceeveryone.wordpress.com/2016/09/22/what-is-your-individual-disability-policy/

muumbagc@gmail.com (October 2018)