National Director Puneet Singhal and his advocacy / Courtesy of Puneet Singhal
The following article is a guest post written by Project 17's India National Director, Puneet Singhal on the importance of SDGs 10 and 17 for disability and inclusion advocacy.
As a passionate disability, inclusion, and accessibility advocate, I have dedicated my life to empowering people with disabilities, championing the rights of marginalized individuals, and striving for a world that values inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA). To achieve this, I focus on two key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations: SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities) and SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).
SDG 10 is instrumental in my work as it promotes social, economic, and political inclusion for all, regardless of disability, race, age, or gender. By advocating for equal representation and accessibility, we can create opportunities for everyone to contribute meaningfully to society. A prime example of this is a project I initiated that involved designing accessible infrastructures in schools to cater to the needs of children with disabilities. This initiative not only enhanced the quality of education but also promoted a culture of inclusivity and understanding among students and staff.
However, I believe that the true power to revolutionize disability inclusion lies in SDG 17, which emphasizes the importance of partnerships and collaboration. In my opinion, civil societies, NGOs, and other nonprofits must work together to create lasting change, rather than competing against one another in a zero-sum game. We need to harness our collective strengths and resources to address systemic barriers and empower the disability community.
One such collaborative effort I spearheaded involved partnering with local businesses to establish a vocational training program for people with disabilities. By working together, we were able to provide essential job skills, create employment opportunities, and ultimately, improve the overall quality of life for the participants. This project would not have been possible without the strong partnerships we built with the business community.
However, the current state of collaboration within the sector is not sufficient. Many organizations are still operating in silos, hindering progress and limiting our collective impact. To address this issue, I propose the following solutions:
- Develop a shared vision: Organizations working towards similar goals must come together to establish a unified vision for disability inclusion. This will facilitate better collaboration and ensure that resources are utilized efficiently.
- Share knowledge and resources: Nonprofits must actively seek out partnerships and exchange knowledge, resources, and expertise. This will not only strengthen individual organizations but also create a more robust support system for the disability community.
- Foster a culture of openness: To break down the barriers between organizations, we must embrace a culture of openness and transparency. This includes sharing successes and failures, learning from one another, and working collectively towards a common goal.
- Engage diverse stakeholders: Building partnerships with stakeholders across various sectors, such as government, academia, and the private sector, can lead to innovative solutions that drive disability inclusion forward.
I have seen the power of collaboration firsthand in my work. One of our participants, who had always struggled with low self-esteem, told a joke for the first time in decades during a group session. It was only after creating a safe and inclusive environment, fostered by collaboration, that this individual found the confidence to express joy and happiness.
To truly revolutionize disability inclusion and achieve the goals set forth by SDGs 10 and 17, we must foster a spirit of collaboration and partnership among organizations. By working together, sharing resources, and embracing openness, we can create a world where everyone, regardless of their abilities, can thrive and contribute meaningfully to society.