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Demo Finland supports the political participation of people with disabilities in Kenya

Demo Finland’s work in Africa expands as it starts a project in Kenya together with its partner Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD). The project aims at strengthening the capacities of Kenyan political parties in the inclusion of persons with disabilities and to enhance the civil and political rights of persons with disabilities (PwDs) in connection with the coming 2022 elections. 

Legislation in Kenya takes into account the rights of PwDs. The country has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), and Kenya’s constitution requires that a person with any disability is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect and that at least five percent of the members of the parliament must be persons with disabilities. Despite this, PwDs are often in a marginalized position in politics compared to others. 

”The years 2020–2021 are critical to the promotion of civil and political rights of PwDs, because general elections will be held in 2022. Activities aimed at more inclusive party policies are also timely, as parties will be working on their election programs until mid-2021”, says Elina Vuola, Demo Finland’s Programme Manager. There are around 3.5 million people with disabilities in the country who have the opportunity to vote and stand for election in terms of their age. 

The project activities include trainings to representatives of different political parties on the involvement and importance of the participation of PwDs in democracy and also raise awareness on the challenges faced by PwDs in politics. Parties will also be supported on mainstreaming disability inclusion in policy issues. In addition, the project will support civil society organisations and disabled peoples organisations to better engage and advocate to political parties and other duty bearers for the inclusion of PwDs in politics. The project started in August 2020 with interviews of political parties to find out the starting level for the inclusion of people with disabilities. Trainings will begin at the end of the year. 

Work on the political rights of people with disabilities is a new opening for Demo Finland, but the organisation has a long experience of supporting the inclusion of under-represented groups in politics on a multiparty basis. Demo Finland has worked successfully to strengthen women’s political participation in Tanzania and Zambia, among others, and especially with young politicians in Nepal and Tunisia, for example. 

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