Promoting Networking for Independent Living in Belarus

Promoting Networking for Independent Living in Belarus

The first year of ENIL’s project in Belarus, implemented in cooperation with Mental Health Perspectives (Lithuania) and the Office for the Rights of People with Disabilities (Belarus), is now over. During the year, a series of trainings were organised for Belarus civil society representatives, aimed to build their capacity to advocate for social inclusion and empowerment of disabled people. To ensure that people from all parts of the country have equal opportunities to take part in the project, the training sessions took place in all six regions of Belarus – Minsk, Grodno, Vitebsk, Mogilev, Brest and Gomel.

Two were the main training topics in 2016 – project development and networking. ENIL prepared and conducted the trainings on networking, which aimed to foster a better understanding of networking, as a powerful tool for raising awareness and challenging stereotypes and prejudice towards disabled people, and to build participants’ capacity to advocate for social inclusion and independent living. Several case studies, of formal and informal independent living networks from different parts of Europe, were also presented and discussed.

The training sessions were a great experience as ENIL met many people, committed to working for building an inclusive society for everyone in Belarus. The concept of ‘independent living’ was new to many of the participants and discussions often focused on how independent living policies can be promoted and implemented in Belarus. Some people were concerned that the specific political situations in Belarus had a strong negative impact on the potential of civil society to influence disability policies and practices. However, there were some promising developments in 2016, when it comes to independent living and the rights of disabled people in Belarus. In October 2016, the Belarus government ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which opens new opportunities for civil society representatives to work together to ensure national policies are in line with the Convention. In 2017 ENIL will continue to work with civil society representatives from Belarus on issues related to independent living, deinstitutionalisation and fundraising.

The project ‘Empowering Belarus CSOs to Advocate for Social  Inclusion and Promote Participatory Decision Making for People with  Intellectual or Psychosocial Disabilities in 6 Regions of Belarus’ is funded by the European Union.

2 Comments

Michael Holden

April 3, 2017, 3:51 pm

That’s a good start. May I ask, are the barriers based in a cultural attitude to disabled people in Belarus? If so are there any plans to change this attitude via public awareness campaigns?

Lilia Angelova

April 4, 2017, 10:46 am

Thank you for your comment, Michael. Yes, attitudes towards disabled people are a major barrier to independent living in Belarus. That is why in 2018 we will start working on a two-year awareness raising campaign, which will include production and dissemination of fact sheets and reports, publication of press releases, organisation of round table discussions, and production of a video and a website.

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