Serbia Committed to the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Political Life

Serbia Committed to the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Political Life
Minister Brnabić, National Assembly Speaker Gojković, USAID Mission Director El Abd with Gordana Rajkov from the Center for Independent Living
Fonet, Zoran Mrđa

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Belgrade  – On March 15, 2017, over 70 representatives from the parliament, public and private sectors, independent institutions, local governments, disabled people’s organizations, and election monitoring organizations participated in the National Conference on Political Participation of Persons with Disabilities.  The Conference marked the closure of the Center for Independent Living’s (CIL) Strengthening Political Participation of Persons with Disabilities project funded by USAID, a U.S. government agency.

The 18-month project increased the political participation of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Serbia at the national and the local level. In particular, the project built the capacity of PWD organizations to influence the legislative and electoral processes in their communities, created positive changes in election rules, contributed to changes in national laws and policies, and supported cooperation between local governments and disabled people’s organizations.

In his opening remarks, U.S. Ambassador Kyle Scott said that both the United States and Serbia have accomplished a great deal but there is still more that the United States and Serbia could do to include PWDs in political life. “Persons with disabilities in Serbia account for around 8 percent of the population. From a political party development perspective, these numbers are significant enough to be a potential game changer for any political party able to mobilize people with disabilities’ support.  But more importantly, by improving their access to political and policymaking processes, we bring more voices and viewpoints into governing--voices that can expand and enrich our political institutions and our societies”. 

In partnership with five municipalities, the Project developed action plans to improve civil society and local government interaction on disability rights and services issues.  The plans will contribute to adequate resource allocation for priority investments in communities for people with disabilities and, enable the introduction of locally provided services that support independent living for persons with disabilities.