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> Posted by Rosita Najmi, Program Manager, Financial Inclusion for Persons with Disabilities
“Hire Me?” was the question one graduate of Gallaudet University chose as an adornment on the top of her graduation cap. Last week, as the disability and human rights communities, and all of us who care about inclusion, celebrated the 100th ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) I had the pleasure of celebrating the academic and personal achievements of an intern with whom I have been working since February. I joined proud parents, siblings, and professors at Gallaudet University’s 142nd Commencement. Since then, I’ve been considering how the bold question of that one graduate fits the context of financial inclusion.
In a previous blog post about the Center’s program Financial Inclusion for Persons with Disabilities, we found a series of questions. One was directed at the Human Resources Department of financial service providers: “Are there any qualified persons with disabilities in your community you could consider for employment, an internship, or a volunteer opportunity?” In this post, we ask, “If you had two candidates who equally met your checklist of eligibility criteria, and one of them had a disability, how would you decide? To whom would you say yes?” Read the rest of this entry »
> Posted by Rosita Najmi
The Center’s program on Financial Inclusion for Persons with Disabilities is honored to host a photo exhibit, “USAID and Inclusive Development: Mainstreaming Disability in the Millennium Development Goals: Toward 2015 and Beyond.” The exhibit was originally commissioned for the 2010 observance of UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 3), which is an annual observance established by the United Nations in 1981, with a purpose, among others, of promoting a greater understanding of disability issues.
The exhibit includes photographs (17) demonstrating disability inclusion in Cambodia, Ecuador, Kenya, Macedonia, Mongolia, Montenegro, Pakistan, Tanzania, Uganda, United States, and Zambia. The display also highlights case studies (11) from Albania, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Egypt, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Russia, Tanzania, and Vietnam. Read the rest of this entry »
> Posted by Center Staff
On April 29, 11 leaders of the disability community sent a letter to the Smart Campaign applauding the new non-discrimination clause in the Campaign’s evolving Client Protection Principles (CPP).
Principle 4 of the proposed revised CPPs states: “Client selection and treatment should not involve discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, political affiliation, disability, religion or orientation. Non-discriminatory treatment is important for providing access to financial services to all clients who can use them and builds their confidence in the fairness of the provider.”
The Smart Campaign is grateful for the recognition embodied in the letter below, and salutes these leaders for keeping these issues in the forefront of this and other international campaigns.
Dear Smart Campaign Steering Committee,
On behalf of the international disability community, we are writing today to applaud your decision to enshrine non-discrimination as core commitment in your very impressive Client Protection Principles. Read the rest of this entry »
> Posted By Center Staff
In order to reach full financial inclusion, the financial services industry must address the needs of the world’s disabled poor. A great human rights struggle is starting to penetrate the world of low-income finance.
Against that backdrop, the CFI’s program on Financial Inclusion for Persons with Disabilities has launched a new page on the Center’s website.
Check it out to learn the who, what, and why of the program, as well as other details.
You can also download program publications and learn more about the genesis of the effort.
Image Credit: Handicap International
> Posted by Mary Dakim, Intern, Financial Inclusion for Persons with Disabilities Program
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD): 147 countries have signed it; 99 countries have ratified it; how many countries have implemented it?
I recently reviewed a study by the European Foundation Centre that analyzed how the European Union and its member states are implementing the UN CRPD. The report identifies challenges of full and effective implementation and aims to support the EU Disability Action Plan. Operationalizing a convention is clearly no easy task.
As a teacher, I understand how difficult it is to change behavior and to foster a link between an idea and action. During my internship at the Center of Financial Inclusion, I have also learned how much microfinance organizations are already being asked to do—a lot, and from all directions, from donors, investors, regulators, and governments, just to name a few.
The manager of the Financial Inclusion for Persons with Disabilities Program pointed out that profit margins are already thin, that microfinance markets are growing saturated and more competitive, and that MFI leaders are being asked to do a lot beyond honoring their fiduciary responsibility to shareholders.
> Posted by Center Staff
The Center for Financial Inclusion (CFI) has devoted the last several weeks to efforts spanning Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, and beyond. Here are some of the highlights:
In India, the Council of Microfinance Equity Funds (CMEF) coordinators and the Smart Campaign’s team participated in meetings designed to re-tool the Indian microfinance industry. The meetings were organized by Sa-Dhan, ACCESS and CMEF itself.
In other Smart Campaign action, staff members met in Addis Ababa to train prospective client protection trainers and assessors from 11 African networks. Campaign staff also took part in an IDB event on coordinating client protection initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean. Read the rest of this entry »
> Posted by Josh Goldstein, Principal Director for Economic Citizenship & Disability Inclusion, Center for Financial Inclusion, and Michael Stein, Executive Director, Harvard Law School Project on Disability
The Smart Campaign has taken a remarkable step forward in protecting the rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), as well as other vulnerable and marginalized populations, by drafting revisions to its Client Protection Principles to include specific language prohibiting discrimination. Leaving no room for ambiguity, the new principle on Responsible Treatment of Clients stipulates that “client selection and treatment should not involve discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, political affiliation, disability, religion or orientation. Non-discriminatory treatment is important for providing access to financial services to all clients who can use them and builds their confidence in the fairness of the provider.” Read the rest of this entry »
> Posted by Mary Dakim, Intern, Financial Inclusion for Persons with Disabilities Program
Josh Goldstein’s paper. “A New Financial Access Frontier: People with Disabilities,” raises awareness of inclusion of persons with disabilities (PWDs) in financial services to the poor. He reminds us of how we might learn from the fear and skepticism of the early days of the microfinance industry regarding lending to the poor, as we look towards similar hesitation and uncertainty with persons with disabilities.
As he sets forth in his paper, the poor have proven to be bankable and have contributed to the fast growth, profits, and economies of scale microfinance institutions enjoy. The UN paved the legal and political path towards inclusion with its 2006 passing of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) .
As a young professional intent on creating inclusion of PWDs, I laud Mr. Goldstein’s efforts to initiate and foster a dialogue about “how-to” implications of serving PWDs in the industry of financial services to the poor. And as Nigerian national, I offer a few reflections on Mr. Goldstein’s concept note that take into account my personal experiences accessing finance as a person who is deaf from a developing country. Read the rest of this entry »
> Posted by Jon Pattee
Today, the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities, is a time for those of us in the microfinance industry to reflect on this question: How can MFIs and disability organizations boost access to financial services for poor people with disabilities worldwide?
The question is in step with the day’s aim of promoting a better understanding of disability issues, with a focus on the rights of persons with disabilities and gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of the political, social, economic and cultural life of their communities.
Experts on disability rights and microfinance analysts tackled this question at a roundtable earlier this year in Washington, DC. The event was convened by the Center for Financial Inclusion and the Disability and Development Team of the World Bank. Read the rest of this entry »
> Posted by Michelle Romeu
When we think of people with disabilities, our minds may not jump straight to financial inclusion. And despite the fact that over 80 percent of people with disabilities live in developing countries, it’s estimated that they account for less than half a percent of all microfinance clients.
The idea of providing financial services to poor people with disabilities today can be compared with the concept of microfinance itself in the 1970s. Providers are skeptical because of misconceptions and a lack of knowledge about how to serve people with disabilities.
But this analogy has a bright side too. As Josh Goldstein, Principal Director for Economic Citizenship & Disability Inclusion, points out in this month’s Equity E-Newsletter feature, “The lessons from the early days of microfinance…are both instructive and a cause for optimism.”
Just as the success of microfinance demonstrated to the world that the poor can use and need financial services, so, too, we need to make the business case for financial inclusion of people with disabilities. Where do we start? Learn more about this call to action by reading (“Making International Microfinance Institutions Disability Inclusive: A Call to Action”).
It is indisputable that commercial microfinance institutions (MFI) have largely failed to reach a significant segment of the poor: persons with disabilities (PWD). With the clearly stated mission of providing the self employed poor in the informal sector with small loans and other financial products, this market failure is unacceptable and one that the Center for Financial Inclusion at ACCION International (CFI), in partnership with disability organizations worldwide, are committed to remedy. Not doing so would make a mockery of the Millennium Development goals since disability is so heavily concentrated among the poor. Indeed, of the estimated 650 million persons with disability, 525 million are in developing countries. The legal and moral obligation to address this market failure is clear but that business case is less certain.
Last June, the CFI (with the support of the Disability and Development team at the World Bank) , held a “summit” at the World Bank bringing together leaders of the microfinance industry and disability organizations to see if we could coalesce around some common objectives to jumpstart this initiative. A springboard to action was the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the first great human rights treaty of the 21st century. Framing the discussion was a concept paper that CFI prepared, “A New Financial Access Frontier: Persons with Disabilities,” (http://www.centerforfinancialinclusion.org/Document.Doc?id=830) based on a year of research and informational interviews. Its conclusions, as discussed below, were widely endorsed by meeting participants. Read more >
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