DearColleague.us

Letter

Dina Titus

From the office of:

Dina Titus

Sending Office: Honorable Dina Titus
Sent By:
Erica.Riordan@mail.house.gov

Support Funding to Promote International Disability Rights in SFOPS

Deadline: March 12th at 2 pm
google form here

Current FY21 signers: Titus, Fitzpatrick, Speier, Horsford, Sherman, Haaland, Cohen,
Young, Phillips, Pallone, DeSaulnier, Meeks, Cicilline, Beyer, Deutch, Vargas, Danny Davis, García, Holmes Norton, Schakowsky, Dean, Trone, Costa

 

Dear Colleague,

Please join us in sending the attached letter to the Chairwoman and Ranking Member of the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee in support of increased funding for disability rights programming at the Department of State
and USAID.

The International Disability Rights team at the State Department helps make democracy and human rights activities more inclusive of people with disabilities; encourages foreign governments to combat discrimination; promotes disability-inclusive practices
and training for State Department staff; advises our Embassies to ensure disability NGOs and advocates are included in their outreach; and ensures emergency planning and humanitarian aid are accessible to persons with disabilities. The team also represents
the U.S. in multilateral engagements on international disability issues and has been instrumental in gathering information and producing statistics on international disability rights in the State Department’s annual country reports on human rights and human
trafficking.

USAID’s Disability Fund supports rights-based programming for people with disabilities. Programming has included empowering Guatemala’s National Council for Persons with Disabilities to carry out election access observation ahead of the June 2019 general
elections; a collaboration with Nepal Disabled Women Association (NDWA) to train women advocates with disabilities and journalists on rights-based reporting techniques for elections and democratic processes; and promoting peaceful and inclusive political participation
by working with the Malawi Electoral Commission to produce a series of voter education radio messages encouraging persons with disabilities to vote in the May 2019 elections.

We hope you will join us in this effort to ensure the United States remains a leader in promoting the rights and full inclusion of people with disabilities around the world. To add your name to this letter, please fill out the google
form here

Sincerely,

Dina Titus
Member of Congress

Brian Fitzpatrick
Member of Congress

—-

Dear Chairwoman Lowey and Ranking Member Rogers,

We write in strong support of increased funding to support international disability rights. More than one billion people around the world have a disability; 80 percent live in developing countries and 60 percent are women. A majority of people with disabilities
live in poverty, but USG development programs do not require inclusion of people with disabilities. To advance U.S. foreign policy priorities, particularly democracy and human rights, inclusion and access for persons with disabilities must be prioritized.

To that end, we respectfully request that you provide increased funding for the State Department’s office for International Disability Rights; disability-specific funding under the Office of Global Programs in the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy,
Human Rights and Labor (DRL); and additional funding for the USAID Disability Fund in the fiscal year 2021 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill. This funding is particularly important given the Administration’s history of “zeroing
out” SPANS (Special Protection and Assistance Needs of Survivors) which includes the USAID Disability Fund and Leahy War Victims Fund. Such funding is an excellent investment in American interests, as countries with higher degrees of respect for civil liberties
enjoy higher economic growth rates, lessening the need for USG support in the long run.

We also ask that you include the underlined addition below in the paragraph regarding activities administered under USAID’s Disability Programs:

ASSISTANCE.—Funds appropriated by this Act under the heading ‘‘Development Assistance’’ shall be made available for programs and activities administered by the United States Agency for International Development to address the needs and protect and promote
the rights of people with disabilities in developing countries, including initiatives that focus on independent living, economic self-sufficiency, advocacy, education, employment, transportation, sports,
political and electoral participation, and integration of individuals with disabilities, including for the cost of translation.”

The inclusion of persons with disabilities is a fundamental part of democracy and essential to the full realization of human rights; and the political participation and leadership of persons with disabilities, including those who acquired a disability through
conflict, is crucial to sustaining democratic institutions.

The International Disability Rights team at the State Department leads American efforts to promote the rights of persons with disabilities. The team provides guidance on making democracy and human rights activities more inclusive; encourages foreign governments
to combat discrimination; promotes disability-inclusive practices and training of State Department staff; and ensures emergency planning and humanitarian aid are accessible to persons with disabilities. The team also represents the U.S. in multilateral engagements
on international disability issues and has been instrumental in gathering information and producing statistics on international disability rights in the State Department’s annual country reports on human rights and human trafficking. In order to be effective,
this office must have sufficient staff and funding. Currently, the team relies on contributions from other units in the State Department and staff lent to them temporarily, which hinders their ability to integrate disability rights policy throughout State
Department activities. Additional funding would empower the team to better advise our Embassies to ensure disability NGOs and advocates are included in their outreach, support governments and disabled people’s organizations around the world to develop legislation
modeled after the standards outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act, advocate for the implementation of disability legislation, and foster collaboration between U.S. multinational corporations and disability organizations to increase employment opportunities
for people with disabilities.

USAID supports rights-based programming for people with disabilities, such as empowering Guatemala’s National Council for Persons with Disabilities to carry out election access observation ahead of the June 2019 general elections; a collaboration with Nepal
Disabled Women Association (NDWA) to train women advocates with disabilities and journalists on rights-based reporting techniques for elections and democratic processes; and promoting peaceful and inclusive political participation by working with the Malawi
Electoral Commission to produce a series of voter education radio messages encouraging persons with disabilities to vote in the May 2019 elections.

While USAID set a Disability Policy in 1997, there is currently no mandate that all USAID programming be disability-inclusive. There is also no disability policy at the U.S. Department of State. According to the National Council on Disability’s 2017 report,
U.S. Foreign Policy and Disability 2017: Progress and Promise, “in spite of disabilities link to poverty, and evidence of disproportionate marginalization and exclusion, people with disabilities remain ‘invisible’ in the global development agenda.
Unfortunately, despite the agency’s reported commitment to improving disability inclusive development, its financial investments tell a different, contradictory story.” An increased investment in the Disability Fund and in more disability-specific programming
at the State Department’s Office of Global Programs will allow the U.S. Government cover multiple topical areas, improve monitoring, and increase the geographic reach of programming.

Lastly, we request the following language requiring a report on how disability rights are mainstreamed in all programming, policy, and staffing decisions at the Department of State and USAID, including but not limited to democracy, human rights and governance;
education; disaster and conflict; and migration:

Mainstreaming of Disability Rights Report.-Not later than 90 days after enactment of the act, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the USAID Administrator, disabled person’s organizations, and non-governmental organizations with expertise in
international disability rights, as appropriate, shall submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees detailing the strategy, funding, and other resources necessary to mainstream disability rights throughout the U.S. Department of State and USAID,
including: (1) the status of disability inclusion training for civil service and foreign service personnel of the Department of State and USAID and the number of full-time staff devoted to disability inclusion; (2) the status of efforts to mainstream disability
rights throughout Department of State and USAID programming without regard to whether such programming is specifically directed toward persons with disabilities; (3) explanation of disability-specific programming across the Department and USAID; (4) any policy,
programming, or human resources gaps to mainstreaming disability rights throughout the Department and USAID, and plans to address gaps through appropriate mechanisms; (5) progress made on the realization of the rights of persons with disabilities as a result
of Department and USAID policies and programming; and (6) recommendations for legislative actions to fully implement the matters described in (1) through (5).

We look forward to working with you to ensure the United States remains a leader in promoting the rights and full inclusion of people with disabilities.

Sincerely,

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Appropriations, Civil Rights, Foreign Affairs

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