My third eye on Kenya’s disability movement

It has been argued from different quarters that the attitude of entitlement without responsibility has contributed to apathy among persons with Disabilities.
Kenyan persons with Disabilities should be encouraged to become proactive in ensuring good governance practices and use their creativity to ensure that they find their rightful
space in policy and decision making.
Failure to do this will mean that they have accepted to continually be marginalised.
Accountability is critical in ensuring that political leaders and all duty bearers honour their commitments and shows how different programme actions and
investment of public funds translate into tangible results and long-term outcomes that directly benefit persons with Disabilities . Accountability mechanisms should allow for grievances to be voiced and remedies provided and, as a responsive function, should help to improve how policy
or service delivery can be adjusted to make it more effective.
Efforts should be made to build capacity for persons with Disabilities to claim their rights and engage as active citizens.

An effective accountability mechanism is one that has the ability to transparently show the linkages between national and county levels with strong feedback
information loops.

This accurate and timely information has the potential to help in supporting national and county recommendations, actions and approaches aimed at reaching
the goals that support persons with Disabilities meet their aspirations and live a prosperous life.

Working with persons with Disabilities , especially in complex processes like planning, budgeting and monitoring, is crucial if development policies are to be truly
relevant to those they are meant to serve.
Sometimes participation and collaboration becomes difficult when review processes are complex and hard to interpret.

Persons with Disabilities should demand leaders to provide information in alternative format that is interactive and language that they can understand. All this is enshrined in Kenyan constitution and the UNCRPD.

An environment in which feedback is shared should also be considered.

If possible it should be easy to access without necessarily incurring costs.

Political leaders can only be said to be accountable if they listen and respond to the needs of persons with Disabilities people in a clear manner, explain action taken to
rectify whatever recommendations made and a guarantee that it will not be repeated.

This can be through actions like legislative reforms, innovative planning processes and prioritised funds allocation.

In conclusion, non-discriminative feedback mechanisms and effective follow-up processes is a means of verifying that an effective accountability mechanism
is in place.
The Constitution of Kenya has already defined duties, responsibilities and rights, so what is critical is to create strong linkage and integration both
at national and county levels because decisions are made through a network of actors.
For instance in the recently held general elections the Disability community was duped by the independent electro commissionin many ways.
There were no braille ballots at all. To make matters worse 17 counties left out the nominees with disabilities and for the 30 counties that had still had anomalies. Its still gloomy for women with disabilities as history has shown us they are often left out by women with out disabilities as they champion the women agenda and more sore the 2 third gender rule.
Never the less its important to note at the high level UNCRPD forum in August 2015 Kenya nation proclaimed that they provide free legal service when the rights of persons with disabilities have been ignored plus they provided accessible ballot in 2013.
We are yet to see the steps in which the state law office takes this matter in to consideration.
The litmus test that Kenyan persons with Disabilities should use is whether political leaders have put accountability mechanisms and pathways in place that are inclusive,
accessible, collaborative and responsive clearly showing how they will be structured and work in practice.

NB The views expressed here do not represent any agency or organization they are based on 17 years experience as a disability practitioner and human rights defender.

Appeal for Employment for PWDs at all County Levels

Leaders of devolved units and county assemblies should embrace disability inclusion by becoming role models in labour practices by ensuring that persons with different disabilities get share of the county cake distribution at all key positions in both the county assembly and executive levels.

I do heare by affirm that, as major employers and service providers, county governments have a constitutional mandate of article 54, UNCRPD article 27 moral authority and also significant impact on the lives of persons with disabilities.

This is by using fair employment practices and ensuring non-discriminatory service provision to locals and ensuring access to services. County governance is going to be the major driver of Kenya’s political and economic development, considering that crucial sectors of the economy and social/public services are under their jurisdiction.

I affirm the public service commission observations made in its study report of 2014 that persons with disabilities were left out by the national and county governments. With this not withstanding, all this levels of government never met the minimum constitutional threshold of 5 % opportunities but a mere below 1 % was what has been achieved.

since the introduction of devolution in 2013 greater participation, accountability and transparency in local governance and economic

development has been observed though allot needs to be done especially in provision of opportunities to persons with disabilities.

Devolution has provided a platform and an empowering voice to the historically marginalised population in the country.

The Kenyan Constitution envisions, among others, inclusiveness and protection of the marginalised as part of our national values and principles of governance.

International labor organization indicate in its different publications that political participation, especially by persons with disabilities, may lead to qualitative and substantive changes in governance, change of attitudes contributing to creation
of an environment that is more sensitive and responsive to people’s needs. For instance workers with disabilities are prone to work extra hard and ensure they meet targets.

Recently, the United disabled persons of Kenya the umbrella advocacy body for persons with disabilities, said the country has a long way to go to achieve disability mainstreaming in political representation following
the outcome of the August 8 2017 elections. Only 7 persons with disabilities were elected. two have been elected MP, two MCAs and one woman representative.
Earlier in the year, the National Gender and Equality Commission released a report on the status of equality and inclusion. It stated that persons with
disability have been discriminated against in the electoral processes, with their political representation being minimal or totally absent because of cultural
and structural barriers. The report noted that in 2013, across all legislative bodies, only a single woman with disability was elected to the national assembly. A man with disability
was elected to the Senate, five to the National Assembly, and 10 to the county assemblies.

Nominations remedied the situation: The senate ended up with three out of 67 members (4.5 per cent); National Assembly had nine out of 349 members (2.6
per cent), while county assemblies had 71 out 2,222 members (3.2 per cent).

Its still not yet Uhuru for persons with disabilities since the gains made in 2013 especially at the nomination at the county levels seems to be drained by the powers that be.

In the nomination 2017 it was a madden issue where 17 counties din’t nominate any person with a disability. The remaining 30 counties either also never followed the right procedure or they even some counties had fake persons with disabilities.
We should continuously question why society keeps acting as a barrier to the effective participation of persons with disability in all spheres of life. All of us have to consciously and directly challenge the stereotypes we hold towards persons with disability.

The government and its organs need to put its foot forward towards realizing disability mainstreaming and ensuring the meeting of the sustainable development goals by not living persons with disabilities behind.

Quadriplegic explore article by Wacianya with Additions from Mugambi Paul #CDS

HARSH INSPIRATION

Of course everybody is not going to love you,
With or without your disability,
Not everybody is going to like you,
Appreciate you,
Understand you,
Accommodate you,
Encourage you,
others may hold your assistive device,
others will talk much about you,
It’s your journey, come on!
Others may accompany you,
stare at glance,
Or choose not to,
Does it mean you terminate your journey?
You see even if you choose to terminate it,
Others will continue with theirs,
The hands of time will not stop,
Neither will they slow down,
It’s a jungle out there for everyone,
So don’t just sit in your pity potty,
Angry at life and fate,
Angry at everyone and everything,
Angry at your family, friends, strangers,
Goats, dogs, wind, rain, leadership, poor infrastructure sunshine….
Angry at you, come on!
It’s a race against time,
In pursuit of joy,
In pursuit of love and happiness,
In pursuit of fulfillment,
So rise up from your pity potty,
Go out there and live,
That’s the only life you have,
Love it,
Love yourself and love others,
None of us are getting out of here alive,
so please stop treating yourself like an after thought.
Eat the delicious food.
Walk in the sunshine.
Jump in
the ocean.
Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure.
Be silly.
Be kind.
Be weird. There’s no time for anything else.

Na uache ujinga,
Kumbaff!
#b the change
arise and shine
be out of the box.

Ignorance is the enemy within: On the power of our privilege, and the privilege of our power~ Darren Walker

I was a sophomore in college when I first encountered the writing of James Baldwin. His courageous spirit, his clarion voice, and his moral imagination
expanded my consciousness of what it meant to be black in America. It helped me make sense of my own experience growing up in the rural South during the
1960s.

This past year, as I have traveled across the country and around the world, Baldwin’s clear-eyed understanding of our human frailties—as well as our potential
for transformation—has traveled with me. It has given me
#reasonsforhope.

Certainly, the events of this year have tested any commitment to hope, and to the belief that equality can triumph over indifference and injustice. We
are witnessing alarming levels of racism and bigotry in the West. We feel anguished and powerless over the plight of refugees from war-torn regions in
the Middle East and Africa. The world over, continued violence against women and girls, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ communities, and other vulnerable people
reminds us that inequality can exact deadly consequences.

In the United States, we find ourselves grieving far too often. We despair over the innocent African Americans killed by police and over the killings of
innocent officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. As we try to measure the incalculable costs of this violence—and the trauma it expands and extends—we are
called to work with greater urgency to connect the reality we see with the solutions we seek.

As we continue to confront, and be confronted by, entrenched inequality of all kinds—as we search for ways to understand and address it—I have returned
repeatedly to one of Baldwin’s insights in particular: “Ignorance, allied with power,” he wrote in 1972, “is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”

These words resonate powerfully today. That is in large part because they compel us to confront our responsibility. They demand that we look closely at
our own ignorance and our own power. And as I discovered for myself, these two acts are not easy for any of us.

Confronting power, privilege, and ignorance
Author James Baldwin speaking about American racism to a predominantly black audience at UCSD in 1979.
Author James Baldwin speaking about American racism to a predominantly black audience at UCSD in 1979.

When Baldwin crafted his critique, power was held almost exclusively by wealthy white men and their institutions, including some of the very institutions
whose exercise of power we still scrutinize.

Since his writing, however, our definition of the power that allies with ignorance has expanded to include privilege: the unearned advantages or preferential
treatment from which we all benefit in different ways—whether due to our place of origin, our citizenship status, our parents, our education, our ability,
our gender identity, our place in a hierarchy.

The paradox of privilege is that it shields us from fully experiencing or acknowledging inequality, even while giving us more power to do something about
it. So, privilege allied with ignorance has become an equally pernicious, and perhaps more pervasive, enemy to justice. And just as each of us holds some
form of power or privilege we can challenge in ourselves, we each hold some form of ignorance, too.

Typically, in conversations about race, the word ignorance is associated with outright bigotry—and no doubt the two can be related. Yet in my experience,
ignorance remains such a ferocious enemy because of its silent, constant, unacknowledged presence.

I am a black, gay man, so some might assume that I’m especially sensitive to these issues and dynamics. But during the past year I have had to confront
my own ignorance and power, and come to terms with the ways I was inadvertently fueling injustice.

Last June, my colleagues and I
announced
that FordForward would focus on disrupting inequality. During the weeks that followed, I received more than 1,500 emails in response, mostly congratulatory.
And then something happened: I was confronted with feedback that highlighted my own obliviousness.

My friend Micki Edelsohn, founder of a remarkable organization called Homes for Life in Wilmington, Delaware, was the first to note that FordForward made
no mention of a huge community: the more than one billion people around the world who live with one form of disability or another, some 80 percent of them
in developing countries. “I applaud you for taking on inequality,” she said. “But when you talk about inequality, how can you not acknowledge people with
disabilities?”

Many others reiterated her unsettling message, from former governor Tom Ridge and Carol Glazer, chairman and president, respectively, of the National Organization
on Disability, to Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, the president of RespectAbility. As a matter of fact, it was Jennifer—now among our most constructive, valued
partners—who, in a rather scorching email, called me a hypocrite. I deserved it.

Indeed, those who courageously—and correctly—raised this complicated set of issues pointed out that the Ford Foundation does not have a person with visible
disabilities on our leadership team; takes no affirmative effort to hire people with disabilities; does not consider them in our strategy; and does not
even provide those with physical disabilities with adequate access to our website, events, social media, or building. Our 50-year-old headquarters is currently
not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)—landmark legislation that celebrated its 26th anniversary this summer. It should go without
saying: All of this is at odds with our mission.

Disability, inequality, and missed opportunities
Several thousand Georgia residents with intellectual and physical disabilities and disability rights advocates gather outside the Georgia statehouse for
2016 Disability Day, celebrating 25 years of the federal Americans With Disabilities Act.
Several thousand Georgia residents with intellectual and physical disabilities and disability rights advocates gather outside the Georgia statehouse for
2016 Disability Day, celebrating 25 years of the federal Americans With Disabilities Act.

The fact is, people with disabilities—whether visible or invisible—face harsh inequalities. People with physical, sensory, intellectual, or mental health
disabilities do not benefit from the same opportunities as those without. This inequality is pervasive, and it regularly intersects with other forms of
inequality we already address in our work.

For instance, RespectAbility found that
more than 750,000 people in our jails and prisons have a disability.
How many times have I thought, talked, or written about the imperative of criminal justice reform in the past year, I wonder, without thinking about this
aspect of the crisis at all?

And so, for me and for the foundation, my first question was: How had this happened—how could we possibly miss this? The answer, simply put, is power,
privilege, and ignorance—each of which multiplies the prejudicial effects of the other.

I am personally privileged in countless ways—not least of which is that I am able bodied, without immediate family members who have a disability. In my
own life, I have not been forced to consider whether or not there were ramps before entering a building, or whether a website could be used by people who
were hearing or visually impaired.

In the same way that I have asked my white friends to step outside their own privileged experience to consider the inequalities endured by people of color,
I was being held accountable to do the same thing for a group of people I had not fully considered. Moreover, by recognizing my individual privilege and
ignorance, I began to more clearly perceive the Ford Foundation’s institutional privilege and ignorance as well.

Some of my colleagues have raised the issue of disability rights in informal, individual conversations. Others have personal experience with disability,
or have cared for friends and family who do. Yet over the 18months that we meticulously crafted FordForward—an extensive, exhaustive process—we did not
meaningfully consider people with disabilities in our broader conversations about inequality.

Thinking back, I had believed that our institution—all our people, all our processes—would serve as a check and balance against individual biases. I assumed,
without really stopping to acknowledge my assumption, that issues I might overlook, or be ignorant of, would be raised by someone else—and that the space
was there to raise them. It is clear to me now that this was a manifestation of the very inequality we were seeking to dismantle, and I am deeply embarrassed
by it.

Yet the experience has kindled a learning moment for me—and for all of us at Ford—precisely because it affirms something important about how most institutions
work, or fail to, and how we can make them work better for more people.

This is not to say this system of checks and balances does not already exist. The diversity of perspectives within our organization and our board is perhaps
one of our greatest strengths. Still, as some have pointed out, this diversity does have gaps. As an organization composed of individuals with different
inherent biases, we are not immune to ignorance. While checking each other’s ignorance in one area, we may simultaneously—and unconsciously—reinforce and
even ratify it in another. In this way, an absent voice or constituency may not merely be unconsidered; it may as well not exist.

This kind of institutional ignorance is wide ranging. We see it when companies and organizations offer unpaid internships, and in the lack of diversity
on the
boards of cultural institutions.
We see it in the false choices between pro-victim and pro-law enforcement policy imperatives, and in responses to institutionalized racism more broadly.
I think it’s fair to say that this same narrow-mindedness
undercuts all of us in philanthropy
—and given our charge, it is unconscionable. Despite our best intentions, when we fail to address ignorance within our organizations, we are complicit
in allowing inequality to persist.

The good news is: We can change. And we are changing. Among all the many challenges facing our world and our work, the solution to this one is entirely
within our control. In order to make our organizations more effective, we must consciously, deliberately lead them to become less ignorant.

From ignorance to enlightenment

So how do we do this? How do we move from unwitting ignorance to enlightened action?

For my colleagues and me, the transformation starts with acknowledging our own fallibility and deficiencies. We are becoming more comfortable with uncomfortable
feedback. Rather than adopting a defensive posture by default, we are opening ourselves to dialogue and learning. As we know, change takes time, and we
may not succeed fully right away. But we are committed to doing better, and we hope that continual feedback will keep us honest.

In this particular case, we have sought out the counsel of numerous people with disabilities, as well as disability rights advocates—including visionary
leaders like Judy Heumann and former senator Tom Harkin, and our colleagues at the Open Society Foundations and Wellspring Advisors, who were pioneering
funders in this area more than a decade ago. These conversations have offered us tremendous insight into how we can—and will—include people with all types
of disabilities in our work.

To be clear, we will not initiate a new program on disabilities. Rather, we will integrate an inclusive perspective across all of our grantmaking. As I’ve
come to learn, the mantra of the disability community is “Nothing about us, without us”—words that ring true across our work. After all, we make better
decisions when we hear and heed the important contributions of all humankind. And I am confident that by adding and applying this additional lens across
our efforts—by asking the extra question, Are we mindful of the needs of people with disabilities?—we will see new opportunities we otherwise might have
missed.

We also are taking immediate, practical action. For starters, we revisited our plans for the renovation of our headquarters to ensure that we go beyond
the requirements of the ADA, so people with and without disabilities have the same quality of experience in the Ford Foundation building. We are also addressing
our hiring practices. And soon we will ask all potential vendors and grantees to disclose their commitments to people with disabilities in the context
of their efforts on diversity and inclusion.

This is an example of how the Ford Foundation is striving to redress an issue we didn’t get right. But more than that, it is a call to reflect on our
personal and collective ignorance—and to work more conscientiously to combat that ignorance, no matter what shape it takes.

For some, this might mean reconsidering the makeup of a board or leadership team—or reexamining recruiting and hiring practices that may unintentionally
exclude certain people. For others, it might mean reassessing a program based on the context that surrounds it, or reflecting on the language we use when
we talk about the people we work with. Or it might mean asking for uncomfortable comments and criticism, and seizing them as an opportunity for growth.

Demanding more of ourselves, delivering more for others

We simply cannot and will not defeat the enemies of justice—or dispel ignorance—without taking time to reflect on our own lives, and without asking difficult
questions: Who am I forgetting? Which of my assumptions are flawed? Which of my beliefs are misbegotten?

To do this, we need to put aside our pride. We need to open our eyes, ears, minds, and hearts in order to embrace a complete and intersectional view of
inequality. Only when we permit ourselves to be equal parts vigilant and vulnerable, can we model the kind of honest self-reflection we hope to see across
our society.

If “ignorance allied with power” is, in fact, the greatest enemy of justice—and the greatest fuel for inequality—then empathy and humility must be among
justice’s greatest allies. This will be the work of our year ahead and beyond. It is the work of engaging directly with the root causes and circumstances
of injustice that make philanthropy both possible and necessary.

For my part, I am hopeful. By demanding and expecting more of ourselves and our institutions, we can deliver more for others. By listening more to each
other, we can continue to forge a more just way forward, together.
Foundation.

writer is
#Darren Walker,
President