Understanding the situation on the ground—and the needs and priorities of our community—is essential to effecting change. This is why field research is an important tool for human rights advocates. But the pandemic upended the traditional ways in which we conduct this work.
WEI’s Pacific Project —which began pre-pandemic— includes extensive research into the issues impacting women and young people with disabilities in several Pacific Island Countries. Our partnerships in the region became even more essential when COVID-19 struck and travel to and within the region was no longer possible. Implementing field research meant close collaboration with trusted colleagues on the ground.
Now, after two years of interviews, focus group discussions, and stakeholder meetings, the results of this work are being launched and disseminated to advocates, allies, policy makers, and service providers, both in the region and to the WEI community globally.
One such groundbreaking resource documents the particular barriers that women and young people with disabilities face in Samoa (including during the pandemic). This report was developed by WEI in close consultation with our regional partner, the Pacific Disability Forum (PDF), a Samoan disabled persons organization, Nuanua O Le Alofa (NOLA), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)’s Pacific Sub-regional Office (UNFPA-PSRO).
Among the issues prioritized by women and young people with disabilities in Samoa in interviews were:
- stigma and discrimination,
- limited access to justice,
- no access to family life education,
- multiple barriers to accessibility, including physical, and communications barriers to exercising sexual and reproductive rights and their right to be free of violence.
A key finding from this research is that women and young people with disabilities need access to easily digestible information about their rights—including rights during the COVID-19 pandemic. So alongside of the country-specific reports, WEI developed a Know Your Rights guide in partnership with PDF and UNFPA-PSRO and with the support of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Stay tuned for more updates from WEI’s extensive work in the Pacific and visit WEI’s Partner Spotlight to find out more about the Pacific Disability Forum and their work with 71 disability rights advocates and member organizations across 22 Pacific Island countries and territories.