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FOCUS March 2020 Volume 99

Advocating for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Jordan

Asia Abdel Mutaleb Yaghi


I and four other Jordanian colleagues (three women and a man) with various disabilities started in 2008 to work earnestly on educating other persons with disabilities about a law that should be protecting them. But their families were not sure about our efforts because we were a group of activists who did not belong to any formal organization. And when we asked for government service for persons with disabilities, government officials would reply: Who are you? This led us into thinking of creating a group that would deal with matters related to persons with disabilities (specifically about the law) and would advocate and demand for their rights.

In the same year, Ana Insan was born. In English, the Arabic words “Ana Insan” translate into “I am human,” and thus the English name of the organization became “I AM HUMAN” Society for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (I AM HUMAN).  It is a disabled persons’ organization (DPO) that is non-governmental, non-profit and volunteer-based. It now has almost four thousand members all over Jordan. Women with disabilities (WwDs) constitute the majority of its members.

I AM HUMAN aims to provide WwDs with equal access to all spheres of community life, including realization of all social, economic, political, cultural, health and legal rights under Jordan’s Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities No. 20 of 2017 (DPRL)1 and referenced by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

It created the Leaders' Forum to raise awareness of issues affecting persons with disabilities (PWDs), promote the concept of inclusion, secure medical aid for them, and build their capacities through training on outreach, advocacy and claiming rights at both national and international levels. It networks with local and international organizations on empowering and building the capacities of PWDs. It trains female and male PWDs on all matters related to their lives including political empowerment, building advocacy capacities, self-acceptance and other matters. It works on combating violence against women with disabilities, drafting and implementing plans related to equality, non-discrimination and economic empowerment of PWDs. It is also involved in the revision of several laws on human rights and PWDs’ rights, including revision of the Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities No. 31 (2007). It has a team of volunteers from different parts of the Kingdom that undertakes these activities.2

I AM HUMAN is implementing major projects at present including the following:

  • Inclusive Decisions for Equal and Accountable Society (IDEAS) project that aims to strengthen the role and capacity of disability-focused civil society organizations in working with the local governments, media and PWDs to ensure better representation of PWDs in the policymaking process and better understanding and protection of their rights;
  • Training for students participating in the Jordanian Student Conference of Speakers of Parliaments project in King’s Academy;
  • Training WwDs on leadership skills in cooperation with Mobility International;
  • “Economic Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities” project which aims at building the capacity of PWDs to be able to work and become economically independent;
  • Project at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, Department of Special Education at the University of Jordan that presents success stories to students in special education class. The stories discuss the barriers facing PWDs and the means to overcome them including measures to condition the community on changes needed to support PWDs;
  • Implementation of “I want my right to 4%” campaign for the fulfilment of the rights of PWDs and their empowerment under Article 4C of Law No. 31 of 2007 on employment of PWDs. The campaign is being undertaken in Amman, Irbid and Zarqa, and funded by Stars of Hope.

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Focus group discussion for 
children with disabilities on the provision of psychological, cultural and social services to them at the Society for the Preservation of Petra.


Community Activities

I AM HUMAN holds community training and rehabilitation activities. It has training for parents regarding children's behavior, coping skills and other issues. There are also training activities for members of the community on laws relevant to PWDs and for those involved in the rehabilitation of PWDs. It provides vocational training (such as on physical or occupational therapy) in coordination with several institutions.

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Free drawing hour for members of I AM HUMAN with volunteers at the 
Islamic Scientific College School.

After the rehabilitation process regarding education, work or community engagement is completed, I AM HUMAN undertakes follow-up activities for PWDs to make sure that they had acquired all the needed skills and could integrate well in society.

I AM HUMAN monitors and documents cases of violence against girls and women with disabilities in homes, schools, workplaces, institutions, streets and public places. Trained field workers visit places where women and girls with disabilities live and collect data on violations or abuses. It also provides phones to women victims so they can directly seek help from the local government and civil society organizations. Psychological counseling is also provided for these cases. I AM HUMAN workers follow-up through home visits to monitor the condition of the girl victims and also to communicate necessary information to the family.

I AM HUMAN is a partner institution in the “three-year project titled ‘You have a right, a choice…claim it!’, aiming to elevate the response to gender-based violence in the Kingdom with a specific focus on women with disabilities.”3 The project involves provision of legal and psychosocial support to WwDs who are victims of violence. It includes the upgrade of local anti-gender-based violence centers to become “more friendly and physically accessible” for men and women with disabilities who are “more prone to experiencing economic and social discrimination.” It also has an advocacy component that “targets both men and women to raise awareness on women’s rights within marriage contracts.”4

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Asia Yaghi receiving recognition during the 2013 Independence Day
celebration from His Majesty King Abdullah II, King of Jordan,
for her work on PWDs.

Challenges, Reflections and the Future

The 2020-2024 plan5 of I AM HUMAN reflects the continuation of its activities by including 1) leadership and empowerment programs for PWDs; 2) training for members of the media, government officials and school educators on how to present the issues of PWDs and how to support their integration in all spheres of life; 3) research and awareness-raising to counter people’s negative perception, attitude and behavior toward PWDs; 4) activities that allow PWDs to express their own views in decision-making processes and participate in different undertakings (such as sports); 5) practical training on how the community can deal with PWDs; 6) provision of advice to PWDs on all issues that they need to know including adjusting to the social environment, enrolling in educational programs, obtaining work, etc.; and 7) implementing protection programs for PWDs.

I AM HUMAN seeks the transformation of the PWDs by improving all aspects of their lives. It seeks to facilitate this transformation by building their capacities without being burdened by the complicated systems of government agencies, training them on how to protect their own selves from violence, and explaining to them the importance of living independently even though they stay with their family.

I AM HUMAN believes that the willingness of PWDs to become independent and engage society arises from independent living at home.


Asia Abdel Mutaleb Yaghi is the President of “I AM HUMAN” Society for Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

For further information, please contact: Asia Abdel Mutaleb Yaghi, President,  “I AM HUMAN” Society for Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Building no. 15, Al Ordon street Sub Rashed Baqdones Street,  Amman 11121, Jordan; ph (962) 795859211 & 777751425; fax (962) 65671615; e-mail: iamahuman.asia@yahoo.com; http://anainsandpo.org;  Facebook: Human Rights Asia (I am A Human Dpo).

 

Endnotes

1 Text of the Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities No. 20 for the Year 2017, available at http://hcd.gov.jo/en/content/law-rights-persons-disabilities-no-20-year-2017.
2 For further discussion on this matter, see Shadow Report on the Status of Implementation of The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Jordan, submitted to the 17th Session of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, February 2017.
3 Maram Kayed, “Rights of women, people with disabilities at heart of 3-year nationwide project,” The Jordan Times, 21 November 2019, www.jordantimes.com/news/local/rights-women-people-disabilities-heart-3-year-nationwide-project.
4 Statements of Asia Yaghi, in Maram Kayed, ibid.
5 These are highlights of the plan entitled I am a Human Society for Rights of Persons with Disabilities - 2020-2024.
 


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