The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), Article 29 states that voting procedures, facilities and materials must be appropriate, accessible and easy to understand for use of persons with disabilities.
Sustainable Development Goals 10 (SDGs 10) states that all national laws and policies should be disability inclusive to eliminate discrimination and should provide reasonable accommodation.
In Far-West Nepal, especially in the 2 project districts: Dadeldhura and Doti, intellectual disability is still attributed to past wrongdoing, by parents or even by persons with disabilities themselves. In these districts, persons with intellectual disabilities are barred from religious and cultural events like wedding ceremonies and other formal occasions, as their presence is thought to bring bad luck.
Also, in Dadeldhura and Doti districts, women and girls, including women and girls with intellectual disabilities during their menstruation are kept in an isolated shed as it is feared that if a menstruating woman touches a man or a plant or even an animal, some bad luck befalls the family or the village.
Moreover, resource allocation for persons with intellectual disabilities is inadequate and government plans and programs are not fully disability inclusive.
The key barriers that block Dalit women with intellectual disability from exercising their voting rights:
1) Stereotypical mindsets about disabled women’s capabilities and cultural beliefs about their mental disability’s causes;
2) Inaccessible and existing disability insensitive voting awareness materials;
3) Discriminatory laws and policies that do not address disabled people’s issues in their access to voting rights.
This project will:
a) Conduct intensive policy level discussions and workshops with election authorities to enforce disability sensitive and accessible voting laws and practice;
b) Engage organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) and other community groups to collaboratively advocate for the civic and political rights of Dalit (“untouchable”) women with intellectual disabilities;
c) Engage key government line agencies to ensure disability sensitive and accessible voting system, build networks, and provide ongoing training to disability rights advocates and broader civil society;
d) Encourage disabled women to actively participate in the local, provincial, and national elections.