Bridging the Indigenous Peoples and Disability Rights Movements

February 19, 2013
Source: Disability Rights Fund


Bridging the Indigenous Peoples and Disability Rights Movements

February 19, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                    

Contact: Diana Samarasan, Executive Director

Telephone: +1-617-261-4593



Boston, MA – Myrna Cunningham, immediate former Chairperson of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), has agreed to join the Disability Rights Fund’s (DRF’s) Global Advisory Panel as a “Bridge Builder” advisor[1].


Ms. Myrna Cunningham is an Indigenous Miskita woman from the community of Waspam, Nicaragua. She has extensive experience on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, including in issues of education, gender, intercultural health and traditional medicine. She has also served in leadership capacities in several philanthropic and women’s organizations. Her expertise reinforces the Funds’ cross-movement work, toward the recognition of the rights of indigenous persons with disabilities.  


In May of 2012, with Australian Aid funding, the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund (DRAF) brought six indigenous leaders with disabilities to the UNPFII, where they held the first ever side event on persons with disabilities within indigenous communities. Ms. Cunningham chaired this event, together with UN DESA and the Australian Government.


As a result of the event, a report on the situation of indigenous persons with disabilities was requested by the UNPFII. Ms. Cunningham and fellow UNPFII member, Mr. Paul Kanyinke Sena, were named responsible for the report.


Drafted through a consultative process with indigenous and disability experts by the International Disability Alliance (IDA), with support of the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund (DRAF) and financing from Australian Aid, the report will be presented at the twelfth session of the UNPFII in May 2013. It is now available on the UNPFII website.


“The report will initiate better integration of Indigenous Peoples with disabilities within the broader indigenous rights movement and ensure that their voice is heard by the wide array of programs, funds and agencies of the UN,” said Diana Samarasan, Executive Director of DRF and DRAF. “Ms. Cunningham will bring a depth of knowledge and networks to our work on the rights of persons with disabilities, including indigenous persons with disabilities, around the world.”



About the Disability Rights Fund and the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund
Created in 2008, DRF is a grantmaking collaborative between donors and the global disability community, which empowers disabled persons’ organizations in the Global South to participate in ratification, implementation, and monitoring of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. DRF’s sister fund, the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund, supports advocacy for legislative change in its target countries. To date, DRF and DRAF have distributed more than $9 million in grants to nearly 200 disabled persons’ organizations in 22 countries.


The Funds’ donors include the American Jewish World Service, Australian Aid, the U.K. Government, the Leir Charitable Foundations, The Foundation to Promote Open Society, part of the Open Society Foundations, and The Sigrid Rausing Trust.


[1]The twelve members of DRF’s Global Advisory Panel come from five continents and reflect a broad cross-section of the disability and other rights communities. Bridge Builder advisors come from other human rights communities; they bring best practices from those communities, and in turn, learn from the disability rights community.