Supporting Persons with Disabilities: An Interview with Barbara Ventura

In honor of International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), LMG interviews Barbara Ventura from Peru, a Founding Partner and President of La Asociacion Luchando Contra Viento y Marea (Association for Struggling Against All Odds). To read more about Ms. Ventura’s participation in the Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD), click here.

The overarching theme for International Day of Persons with Disabilities in 2013 is: “Break barriers, open doors: for an inclusive society for all.”

Barbara Ventura IDPDBarbara Ventura from Peru, Founding Partner and President of La Asociacion Luchando Contra Viento y Marea (Association for Struggling Against All Odds)

LMG: What does “break barriers, open doors to realize an inclusive society for all” mean to you?

Barbara Ventura: To me, it means that people living with disabilities must participate in society, or the world, in different ways with concrete proposals about how to achieve social change without prejudice and indifference, and thereby achieve equal opportunities. That´s why almost four years ago I decided to work as a journalist to be able to send a message to persons with disabilities:  “We want opportunity, not charity.”

LMG: What is the most important progress you have witnessed in implementing disability-sensitive policies and/or promoting public awareness?

Ventura: Disability is a theme that is becoming visible on the international policy agenda, and, as a result, we have international legal policy frameworks. Yet, the most important progress is the political will on the part of government authorities and the activism of people with disabilities. There is also more information and knowledge now about disability that there was ten years ago. In addition, inclusion of persons with disabilities in the labor force is one of the thematic areas that is receiving more emphasis as is the political participation of persons with disabilities.

LMG: From your perspective, what remaining challenges or obstacles are of highest priority?

Ventura: The most important challenge is to get government leaders to allocate greater budgetary resources to the area of disability. A second challenge is to maintain the union and perseverance of the disability community in their daily fight [for disability rights]. The third challenge is to change the mindset of society and promote a culture of disability.

LMG: As we approach the post-2015 time period, what actions do you recommend for leaders like yourself to take to encourage support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities and to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life?

Ventura: The recommendation I would make is that people with disabilities be included in all development programs, that they continue to be empowered and that they continue to work [for change], articulating across sectors. Most importantly, persons with disabilities should be the protagonists of change, as reflected in the following meaningful phrase: “Nothing for us, without us.”

Interview in Spanish/Entrevista En Español:

LMG: Para ti, ¿que significa “Rompe barreras, abre puertas: para una sociedad inclusiva para todos”?

Barbara Ventura: Para mí significa que las personas con discapacidad  deben participar de diversas formas en la sociedad o el mundo con propuestas concretas para lograr un cambio social sin prejuicios e indiferencias,  y así lograr la igualdad de oportunidades.

Es por eso que casi 4 años decidí ejercer el periodismo para enviar un mensaje de que las personas con discapacidad "No queremos caridad sino oportunidad".

LMG:¿Cuál es el avance mas importante que has observado en relación a la implementación de políticas relacionadas a la discapacidad y/o a la promoción de información para el público sobre la discapacidad?

Ventura: Podríamos decir que la discapacidad es un tema que se está visibilizando en la agenda de la política internacional, tenemos marcos legales e internacionales; pero lo más importante es la voluntad política de nuestras autoridades y la incidencia de las personas con discapacidad.

Actualmente hay mayor información y conocimiento sobre la discapacidad que hace 10 años atrás.

La inclusión laboral de  personas con discapacidad es uno de los ejes temáticos que se está dando con mayor énfasis así como la participación política de las personas con discapacidad.

LMG: De tu punto de vista, ¿cuáles son los retos u obstáculos que restan que son de la más alta prioridad?

Ventura: El reto más importante que debemos conseguir es que los gobernantes designen mayores presupuestos para trabajar la temática de discapacidad.

Un segundo reto sería mantener la unidad y perseverancia de la comunidad con discapacidad en su lucha diaria.

En tercer lugar cambiar la mentalidad de la sociedad y promover una cultura de discapacidad.

LMG: Ahora que nos acercamos al final del período para alcanzar los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio, ¿cuales acciones recomiendas que tomen líderes como tú para promover el apoyo para la dignidad, derechos y bienestar de personas con discapacidad y para aumentar el conocimiento de las personas sobre los beneficios a ser derivados de la integración de personas con discapacidad en todos los aspectos de la vida política, social, económica y cultural?

Ventura: La recomendación que podría dar es que logremos que las personas con discapacidad sean incluidas en todos los programas, seguir empoderándolas y  realizar un trabajo articulado con diversos sectores.

Y principalmente que las personas con discapacidad sean los protagonistas de ese cambio que se traduce en esta significativa frase: "Nada para nosotros, sin nosotros"

These leaders participated in LMG’s Regional Senior Leadership Program, conducted in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and facilitated by Yale University’s Global Health Leadership Initiative:

Tanzania: Vincent Kaduma, Disability Programme Officer, ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled (ICRC/SFD)

Sudan: Abo Osama Abdalla Mohamed Taktook, General Secretary, Sudan National Council for Persons with Disabilities

Sudan: Salma Ahmed Ali Geneif, Disability Focal Point, Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization & Reintegration (DDR) Commission

These leaders participated in the Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD) program led by Mobility International USA (MIUSA):

Kenya: Lizzie Kiama, Director of Gender and Disability at This-Ability Consulting

To read more about LMG’s work empowering disability leaders and strengthening services for persons with disabilities, click here.