The General Election Network for Disability Access (AGENDA), with support from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), works to promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the political process and to ensure access to political rights. As part of this project, AGENDA held a pilot Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) Workshop for Election Management Bodies (EMBs) on Disability Rights and Elections, in Bogor, Indonesia, on 6 – 7 April 2016.
The workshop emphasized building the capacity of participants to conduct accessible elections and encouraged participants to incorporate international best practices for accessible elections to provide reasonable accommodation for voters with disabilities.
The workshop was officially opened by National Election Commissioner Ferry Kurnia Rizkyansyah, who encouraged participants to gain a better understanding of the rights of persons with disabilities in elections. He noted that there are not currently sufficient training and materials available to provide information on access of persons with disabilities. Through this workshop, the election organizers gained the knowledge to fulfill their responsibility to overcome these obstacles.
IFES Indonesia Chief of Party David Ennis welcomed participants, mentioning that the disability rights and elections module has been developed by IFES to expand knowledge on barriers to access of persons with disabilities to political participation and to cultivate understanding of associated strategies for overcoming those barriers. National Election Commissioner Jury Ardiantoro also attended the opening ceremony.
The workshop was conducted by Brian Latham, Expert BRIDGE Facilitator – Australia, Kelly Mariana, accrediting BRIDGE Facilitator – Indonesia and Rebecca Aaberg, IFES Inclusion Officer, who provided expert advice during the preparation and conduct of the workshop.
In total, 27 participants attended the training, representing provincial level commissioner of Indonesian General Election Commission (Komisi Pemilihan Umum, KPU) from nine Provinces in Indonesia that will have local elections in February 2017, as well as KPU Indonesia and AGENDA officers.
The agenda of the workshop focused on understanding disability, equal access barriers and strategies for persons with disabilities, the role of EMBs and civil society in the elimination of barriers, local election experiences and best practices in disability rights, inclusive accessible voter education and legal framework for disability inclusion in elections.
The two-day workshop was highly participatory. Participants appreciated the opportunity to discuss challenges and opportunities to include persons with disabilities and their rights with other election stakeholders. The pilot module made participants appreciate that persons with disabilities have equal rights to access and contest in elections. Participant feedback from the workshop was very positive. They were enthusiastic and committed to imparting and implementing the skills and knowledge gained from the workshop.
One participant noted: “I learned a lot about disability rights these two days, and this workshop is the platform for exchange of experiences and knowledge”. Another participant said: “So much knowledge of disability rights I learned from the workshop, and I will share it with other EMBs in my province when I get back.”