The unrest that followed eight months of armed struggle to remove former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi remains pronounced more than two years since the regime’s fall. While militias look for ways to transition back to civilian life, the number of wounded warriors and revolutionaries has risen sharply, underscoring the need to recognize persons with disabilities as equal citizens in a new Libya.
The General National Congress’ (GNC) passage of the Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was a milestone in recognizing the rights of persons with disabilities. With IFES’ support, Libyan activists and decision makers are uniquely positioned to put the CRPD into action by raising awareness and removing barriers persons with disabilities face in exercising basic rights.
The Electoral Access Working Group in Libya – which includes GNC members, disabled persons’ organizations (DPOs), activists with disabilities and civil society – has been at the forefront of the CRPD awareness campaign. In September 2013, the group launched an innovative multimedia campaign titled Zaykum Zayna (“As You Are, We Are”) that uses communications strategies to spread messages of equality and promote CRPD principles.
As the campaign gains traction with a growing Facebook and Twitter page, it also provides activists and decision makers with information about trainings and advocacy tools. Zaykum Zayna further serves as an important link between the High National Election Commission (HNEC) and the public on electoral access, promoting the publishing of voter education material in Braille and the use of sign language interpreters for all HNEC press conferences.
Most of all, the working group and media campaign have benefited from the diversity of its members. Partnerships have grown to include media representatives, who have provided input on creating an effective campaign and media strategy. Zaykum Zayna also relies on a web of volunteers who support the creation of advertising material and information dissemination.
With IFES’ support, Zaykum Zayna and the Electoral Access Working Group are not only cementing the principles of CRPD in Libya’s culture and new political system, but also nurturing a new network of activists and decision makers.