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Ongoing support to grant partners

During the reporting period, seven ‘legacy grants’ (multi-year projects approved under the previous strategic plan) have been completed and are undergoing final assessment and closure.

Posted on 04/04/2024
By Commonwealth Foundation

Family caregiving and public policy in India: creating new opportunities for recognition and support (India, 2018–2023)

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Unpaid caregiving has become one of the most important social and economic policy issues worldwide. In India, where there are 26.8 million disabled individuals, many rely on unpaid family members for care. Through our grant, Carers Worldwide and partners in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Odisha have worked to bolster civic engagement in advocating for the rights of family carers at the state level. Additionally, efforts have been made to institutionalise social provisions for carers within policy frameworks and legislation. 

Building on the successes of a prior initiative, (which was also supported by a grant from the Commonwealth Foundation grant and contributed to the inclusion of family carers in local government welfare schemes), this project aimed to enhance the awareness of carers regarding their rights and facilitated their engagement with government officials at both local and state levels. State-level forums were established and equipped to advocate with State Disability Commissioners and other relevant state authorities to address the issues and needs of carers. Subsequent improvements, including the introduction of a carers allowance for individuals caring for family members with severe disabilities and the provision of free medicines for those dealing with mental health challenges, have been initiated as a direct outcome of these efforts.

Promoting rights of persons with disabilities through community-led initiatives (Bangladesh, 2018–2022)

Bangladesh ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in 2007 and enacted the Disabilities Act in 2013. With our grant, Access Bangladesh Foundation and its partners Protibandhi Kallyan Songstha, Protik Mohila O Sheshu Sangstha and Rangdhonu Zilla Protibandhi Adhikar Sangsth helped empower persons with disabilities, enabling their active participation in community decision-making processes. The project contributed to improved accountability and transparency within local authorities with respect to rights of persons with disabilities.

The project established and provided training for 20 self-help groups of persons with disabilities enabling them to articulate their needs and participate in local governance processes. As a result, local councils provided budget allocations for the needs of persons with disabilities; enhanced welfare benefits; introduced free medical treatments and the provision of assistive devices including crutches, hearing aids and wheelchairs; and improved employment opportunities for young individuals with disabilities.

Amplifying the voices of women community leaders in city-planning processes (India, 2018–2023)

The Government of India accorded high priority to building sustainable and smart cities and in 2015 launched the Smart City initiative to improve the lives of citizens using digital and information technologies, urban planning and policy changes. Our grant enabled Gujarat Mahila Housing Sewa Trust to promote the participation of women slum dwellers in local governance so that the priorities of women and girls are incorporated into city development agendas.

The project contributed to improved links between communities and city planners by identifying and training women leaders to advocate with local authorities on city-planning in Ahmedabad and Surat, two of the cities covered by the Smart City initiative. Women leaders negotiated with government officials and political representatives for the implementation of local level plans and improvements to public services including road repairs, waste disposal, water supply and public transport.

Protecting the rights of the transgender community through legislative development (Pakistan, 2020–2023)

In May 2018 the National Assembly of Pakistan passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act aimed at safeguarding the rights of transgender persons by prohibiting discrimination and harassment. Through our grant, Good Thinkers Organisation for Human Development took steps to advocate for the implementation of this Act within the Punjab province. They worked towards the development of a draft Punjab Transgender Protection Bill which was presented to the provincial assembly for consideration.

Through this project, a comprehensive study to assess the adequacy and effectiveness of existing laws concerning transgender rights was published online, with 150 printed copies distributed among key stakeholders. The findings from this study played a pivotal role in shaping the draft Punjab Transgender Protection Bill. The project also supported the establishment of the Trans-Rights Protection Network (TRPN) to advocate for transgender rights, organising 36 seminars across Punjab. The concerted efforts of the network, alongside a comprehensive media strategy, significantly contributed to improving awareness of the general public and policy-makers on the issues facing transgender communities and the need to protect their rights.

Strengthening the capacity of young people to reduce gun violence in their communities (South Africa, 2020–2022)

The Government of South Africa published the Firearms Control Amendment Bill (FCAB) for public comment in 2021. Our grant enabled Gun Free South Africa to campaign nationally for stricter gun control by raising public awareness of the Bill, enhancing the capacity of young people to engage in policy processes and build safer communities through gun-free zones.

Training enabled more than 500 young people to present policy recommendations to reduce gun violence in response to the draft Bill and equipped them with practical skills to increase public safety in violence-affected communities. As a result, 13 gun-free zones were established across restaurants, youth development centres and large social housing developments in seven violence-affected communities in Western Cape and Gauteng Provinces.

A national advocacy and media campaign was conducted to raise public awareness regarding the Bill and the importance of implementing stricter gun laws. This resulted in 255 written submissions for amendment, of which 44 originated from young people in violence-affected communities. An online campaign gained 1,000 signatures in support of the cause. Gun Free South Africa spearheaded the production of seven policy briefs and facilitated civil society engagement with the Civilian Secretariat for Police Services. During these engagements, young representatives tabled their recommendations, contributing to the national conversation on effective gun control measures.

Promoting the rights of street children (Bangladesh, 2019–2022)

Bangladesh ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990 and has since enacted supporting legislation including the National Children Policy 2011 and the Children Act 2013. This initiative aims to address the barriers faced by street children in accessing basic services such as healthcare and education. Through our grant, the Consortium for Street Children and its partners, including Dhaka Ahsiana Mission, Local Education and Economic Development Organisation and Grambangla Unnayan Committee have worked to amplify the voices of this vulnerable group. 

Task forces in Barisal and Dhaka conducted training sessions for 46 street children and 38 street workers on children’s rights and advocacy techniques. These efforts led to the development of children-led action plans and advocacy strategies. Through collaborative efforts between government agencies and civil society, a cross-sectoral response was initiated to enhance protection mechanisms and improve access to basic services for street children. Plans are underway to establish a formal cross sector body to provide ongoing support to street children.

In September 2022, key findings from the report titled ‘Rights versus Reality: Street Connected Children in Bangladesh’ were presented to government and police representatives. The report was based on a survey involving 400 street children, 46 interviews and 10 focus group discussions with stakeholders from government agencies. As a result of these findings, additional services were introduced, including the Street Child Activist Network, which offered immediate food and health-related assistance to street children during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ensuring the inclusive education of children with disabilities (Guyana and Jamaica, 2018–2022)

In 2007, Guyana and Jamaica ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD), subsequently passing national disability Acts. With the support of our grant, ChildLinK worked to bridge the significant gap between the commitments made under national legislation and existing policies and practices. Additionally, the grant aimed to strengthen the capacity of parents, teachers and civil society organisations to advocate on behalf of children with disabilities for increased accountability within education systems.

More than 100 teachers and education officers in Guyana and Jamaica were trained to develop and implement tailored education plans to support the integration of children with mild autism into mainstream schools. Throughout this process, children and caregivers received comprehensive support, and 12 parents were trained to become trainers: raising awareness among an additional 252 parents. As part of the Child Rights Alliance, a multi-stakeholder working group was established to advocate for learners with disabilities.

In Guyana, ChildLinK spearheaded the revision and advocacy for the adoption of a Special Educational Needs (SEN) Policy, facilitating the inclusion of children with mild autism in mainstream schools. With the draft nearing finalisation, consultations held during the project period prompted the Ministry of Education to initiate aspects of the policy programme, including curriculum adjustments aimed at supporting learners with disabilities.