The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) has received international recognition as a recipient of an Innovative Practice Award from the Zero Project, an initiative of the Essl Foundation, which provides a platform for sharing innovative solutions to barriers faced by persons with disabilities around the world. IFES’ leadership training for young persons with disabilities, Engaging a New Generation for Accessible Governance and Elections (ENGAGE), will receive an Innovative Practice Award at the United Nations in Vienna, Austria, in February 2023.
IFES’ ENGAGE methodology is a political leadership course targeting young people with disabilities that builds their skills to continue to be leaders in their communities while providing hands-on community engagement experience through networking opportunities, internships, and community action projects. The training is unique as it is designed specifically for young persons with disabilities, who often experience a combination of ageism and ableism when engaging in political life. ENGAGE alumni have gone on to run for office, serve as poll workers, and be hired as permanent staff at election management bodies (EMBs). A young Indigenous participant from Guyana said, “With what I have learned from this workshop, I have more knowledge and have an action plan to change the lives of people with disabilities in my region.” Read more about ENGAGE here.
Additionally, two IFES partners received Innovative Practice Awards from the Zero Project: the Disability Inclusive Elections Sri Lanka Technical Working Group and the Central Election Commission of Ukraine. In 2017, IFES partnered with local organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) and the Election Commission of Sri Lanka to create the Disability Inclusive Elections Sri Lanka (DIESL) Technical Working Group. Throughout Sri Lanka’s recent electoral cycles, it has worked closely with civil society and the Election Commission of Sri Lanka (ECSL) to expand electoral access for persons with disabilities. Read more about DIESL’s work to improve election accessibility in Sri Lanka.
The Central Election Commission of Ukraine also received an Innovative Practice Award for its efforts to make the election process more inclusive of persons with disabilities. Ahead of the 2020 local elections, IFES partnered with the Central Election Commission and OPDs to design accessible voter education information. Scanning QR codes with a smartphone allowed voters to consume written content in Ukrainian sign language and audio format. Learn more about IFES’s work in Ukraine.
Development of the ENGAGE curriculum was supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Global Affairs Canada (GAC), and USAID have supported course implementations in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Guyana, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, and Ukraine. IFES Sri Lanka’s work is supported by USAID and DFAT. IFES Ukraine’s work is supported by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office; GAC; USAID; and the U.S. State Department.