Amplifying the Voices of Women and Marginalized Groups

August 20, 2020

Eurasia Foundation equips civil society organizations and civic leaders to build more inclusive and equitable societies, and to combat discrimination or disempowerment of individuals on the basis of gender, disability, ethnicity, or geography. By sharing expertise, building organizational capacity, and supporting and connecting communities on the ground, Eurasia Foundation empowers socially and economically marginalized populations. This allows marginalized peoples to gain greater visibility and influence and rise as leaders of positive social change.

To support persons with disabilities in hard-to-reach communities, Eurasia Foundation provides interactive online courses on social entrepreneurship, advocacy, and coalition building. Courses equip disability advocates with skills to advance rights to inclusion, social integration, economic empowerment, and equal access, and generate supportive networks for nurturing the growth of disability-focused campaigns and social enterprises.

One such advocate is Zara, a thirty-five-year-old visually impaired woman who has dedicated her professional life to advocating for the rights of people with disabilities. Zara is the first woman in her region to advise local government on issues of accessibility. Determined to better serve fellow people with disabilities in her community, Zara enrolled in Eurasia Foundation’s online advocacy course. With the continued support of Eurasia Foundation instructors, Zara met with local people with disabilities to learn more about their accessibility challenges, particularly in public spaces. She convinced the mayor to meet with residents to discuss their needs; as a result, the mayor pledged to make accessible sidewalks a priority issue in their district. In a trailblazing effort to ensure beneficiaries’ continued involvement in the campaign, Zara then created a mobile network that allows people with disabilities to communicate directly with local government to voice concerns and advocate for change. Participants share photos and addresses of locations that need to be made accessible, and the mayor tasks municipal authorities with investigating ways to address the issue. This direct interaction between residents and the office of the mayor has produced a surge in civic engagement by the local disability community, who at last feel their voices are being heard.

For more stories from Eurasia Foundation’s 2018-2019 Impact Report, click here.