The European Union (EU) responds to the pressing needs of children and persons with disabilities, who are most affected by inequality and discrimination in the Philippines, by launching a project with Save the Children Philippines that aims to break down the barriers of the disability sector and fulfill their rights and needs.
“One billion people in the world has some form of disability. It is not a small minority and it is very important for everyone to keep that in mind. In the Philippines, 1 out 5 persons with disability is aged 0-14 years old – many of them experience severe difficulties and identify among the most marginalized whose plights are exacerbated by poverty and emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Cristoph Wagner, Head of Cooperation of the Delegation of the European Union to the Philippines.
On May 26, the EU and Save the Children Philippines launched Project SCOPE or “Strengthening the Capacity of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities and Other Civil Society Organizations Towards Effective Civil Society-Local Government Engagement and Improved Government Accountability for Persons with Disabilities, Especially Children in the Cities of Parañaque and Taguig, and Municipality of Pateros” in the online program InkluNasyon.
“This program is important because it is about empowering people with disabilities, including the children and young ones, and also taking local government units (LGUs) to account – that while policies and rules are in place, they also need to be implemented,” said Wagner.
By 2023, the EU-funded project will benefit around 19,724 persons with disabilities, including children. It will empower children with disabilities, as well as their parents, caregivers, organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDs), and other civil society organizations (CSOs) through the use of social accountability where they can participate in inclusive policy making towards contributing to good governance for people with disabilities.
“Social Accountability is an extension of the citizen participation movement which is key to governance and good democracy. It is a constructive engagement between citizens and government in monitoring the use of public resources, based on the assertion of rights, toward better service delivery and promotion of community welfare,” said Emile Gozali, Executive Director of Affiliated Network for Social Accountability – East Asia and the Pacific (ANSA-EAP).
SCOPE is one of the projects that Save the Children Philippines will lead on its 40th anniversary together with the ANSA-EAP, and Save the Children Sweden. It will be guided by Norfil Foundation, Inc., and Life Haven, Inc.
“We need to organize and make everyone in the disability sector, especially children, know and understand their rights in order to demand accountability from the government and our leaders. We need to let their voices be heard on the issues and concerns that affect them,” said Atty. Alberto Muyot, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines.
Meanwhile, the Inclusive Education (IE) Bill for Learners with Disabilities, which Save the Children Philippines has been lobbying together with its partners, has been approved on second reading in the Senate. The IE Bill will help establish inclusive learning resource centers in the country, raise community awareness on learners with disabilities, including their right to quality education, needs and potentials, and increase the capacity of teaching and non-teaching personnel on inclusive education and promote multi-stakeholder partnership.
“Together with the EU and our partners, we hope to develop the model of engagement between the government and persons with disabilities, especially children, through the SCOPE project so it could be adopted by local governments,” said Muyot.
“The European Union is committed to share its values and resources to this project which aligns to the European Commission’s new strategy on protecting and upholding the rights of people with disabilities. We would like to see a good dialogue between those in power and the people in the disability sector, especially the children. We also encourage the business sector to also work with more openness and reach out to the most vulnerable groups and those who are suffering the most,” said Wagner.
“We extend our appreciation to Save the Children, ANSA-EAP, InkluNasyon, and all implementing partners on the successful SCOPE project launch.”