Leave No One Behind – Living Inclusion

The project "Bridging the Gap" of the European Union (EU) aims to enshrine the rights of people with disabilities in development cooperation.

Executives from the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and representatives of partner non-governmental organisations (NGOs) took part in training courses to anchor the rights of people with disabilities in development cooperation.

Promoting human rights for people with disabilities is at the core of Austrian Development Cooperation. Training courses in Vienna for the EU flagship project "Bridging the Gap" show that reducing worldwide inequalities requires more than projects and programmes in developing and emerging countries.

"Leave no one behind" – a lasting promise

The purpose of the two training sessions at the beginning of April 2019 was to highlight what staff from ADA, the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs (BMEIA) and their partner organisations can do to include people with disabilities. "Leave no one behind", the central promise behind the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), was the frame for and central theme of the training. A total of 27 employees and managers from ADA, BMEIA and NGOs participated.

"Bridging the Gap" advises governments and international donors on how to implement the rights of people with disabilities in developing and emerging countries and on how to strengthen organisations advocating those rights. Inclusion as a topic can be firmly enshrined in organisations if their representatives acquire relevant skills and knowledge. The participatory and practice-oriented training in Vienna therefore aimed to raise awareness among participants and to encourage them to learn about how to include people with disabilities. The ultimate goal of those measures is to implement more inclusive programmes and projects and to incorporate inclusion in organisations.

"With the EU flagship project ‘Bridging the Gap’ we build strong international support for the inclusion of people with disabilities. There should be no room neither for discrimination nor inequality. For me personally, the training in Vienna was important and encouraging as so many of my colleagues and our partner organisations took part in it," said Sonja Sattmann-Grabner, ADA’s Advisor for Governance, Human Rights and Migration, who organised the training in Vienna.

Reducing inequalities worldwide

The project, running for four years and totalling almost seven million euros, is being implemented and co-financed by six partner organisations, one of them being ADA, which has contributed 300,000 euros. The EU has allocated most of the funds and commissioned ADA to implement the initiative in Ethiopia, a priority country of Austrian Development Cooperation since 1993. The local ADA project managers, Shitaye Astawes and Pia Korpinen, travelled all the way from Addis Ababa to share their experiences as trainers.

Promoting the United Nations convention on the rights of persons with disabilities in five countries

"Bridging the Gap" aims to implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Paraguay and Sudan. The project consortium is led by the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAPP) and composed of three development agencies from the EU member states Austria (ADA), Italy (IADC) and Spain (AECID) as well as the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) and the European Disability Forum (EDF). The Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights also contribute to the initiative.