“Chisinau municipality – a future champion of social inclusion of people with disabilities”

1. About the Project

1.1 Project Themes:

 

Disability Rights; Good Governance; Civic Engagement.

 

1.2 Project Objective :

To facilitate the establishment of a permanent mechanism of interaction between Chisinau Mayor’s Office (departments and agencies) and the community of people with disabilities in order to mainstream their rights and needs into local policies and programs and transforming Chisinau into a more accessible city for its inhabitants and visitors.

 

1.3 Context and rationale of project:

A very small percentage of public institutions’ buildings, living blocks or public transportation are accessible to wheelchair users. The accessibility for people with visual or hearing impairments is practically nonexistent. Only the community of people with disabilities from Chisinau counts around 80 000 people, without taking into account other categories of people that need architectural or transportation accessibility, such as elderly and parents with baby strollers.

After UN’s Special Rapporteur on the rights of people with disability official visit to Republic of Moldova in September 2015, she stated that in Chisinau most sidewalks, official buildings and other public places lack even the most basic accessibility measures and no public services are available for deaf and blind persons. The problem of inaccessible infrastructure in Chisinau is well known to local NGOs, the ombudsman, the Equality Council, the community of people with special needs and, of course, local public administration. People with visual and motor disabilities, parents with baby strollers, elderly people are suffering the most from this status quo.  Despite the legal obligation to make the city infrastructure accessible and ensure an effective social inclusion of people with disabilities in all spheres of life, the City Hall and its agencies have little success in doing so. After several unsuccessful attempts to collaborate with the Chisinau City Hall and other central public authorities, which have their headquarters in the capital, the community of people with special needs started an alternative and less amiable avenue for cooperation – a series of strategic litigations, demanding for reconstruction of public infrastructure (including sidewalks).

Soon after the local administration lost a few important lawsuits, the representatives of the local community of people with special needs have had a few sporadic meetings with the Chisinau Mayor’s Office decision-makers, deciding on a priority list for reconstruction. But soon after that meetings, no tangible follow-up actions were taken by the City Hall to redress the problem of accessibility in the city nor was established a permanent platform for a sustainable dialog with the community of peoples with special needs.

Chisinau Mayor’s Office has made public statements about its commitment to ensure equal opportunities to people with disabilities living or visiting Chisinau. On the other hand, a few important NGOs and international organizations that work in the field have shown willing to support this cause.

Poor acquaintance with the good practices in the field, week knowledge of standards, lack of a consistent dialog with the community of people with special needs, insufficient lobbying from the right-holders and insufficient resources are the main impediments to an inclusive development of the municipality.

Through this project, we plan to invite at a round table the right-holders, duty-bearers and eventual partners/donors in order to put in discussions (1) the necessity of establishing of a permanent mechanism of interaction between Chisinau Mayor’s Office and the community of people with special needs and, if so, (2) to contribute to the configuration of that mechanism, through meaningful and transparent participation of all stake-holders.

 

1.4 Project Timeframe:

Sep 08, 2018 – Sep 15, 2018

 

2. Program Outline

2.1 Project goals:

– To facilitate the establishment of a permanent mechanism of interaction between Chisinau Mayor’s Office (including departments and agencies) and the community of people with all types of disabilities in order to ensure that their rights and needs rights are successfully integrated in local policies and programs.

– To contribute to the involvement of people with disability, through participation in decision-making process, in transforming Chisinau in a municipality where people with disabilities have equal opportunities and they are treated with dignity.

– To contribute to the transformation of Chisinau municipality in an capital that has accessible infrastructure, goods and services, which serves as a inclusive and feasible model of local development nationally

 

2.2 Project Objective:

  1. To raise awareness among the community of people with disability from Chisinau, their supporters and partners about the best practices that Boston Mayor’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities has in mainstreaming the disability dimension in the work of the local public administration and the tools used for interacting with its constituents;
  2. To share with Chisinau Mayor’s Office decision-makers best practices that Boston Mayor’s Disability Commission has in configuring the necessary internal infrastructure for a better integration of the rights and needs of people with disabilities in local administration, in an inclusive, participatory and transparent manner;
  3. To facilitate the establishment of a permanent mechanism of interaction between Chisinau Mayor’s Office (relevant departments and agencies) and the community of people with disability from Chisinau municipality, in order to cooperate in transforming Chisinau in a inclusive municipality. The concept of the mechanism (institutional configuration, functions and responsibilities, representation, etc.) will be developed by the participants of the workshop – duty-bearers and right-holders. The draft concept will be taken over by Chisinau Mayor’s Office for further improvements and approval.
  4. To empower the community of people with disabilities from Chisinau municipality, including NGOs and partner organizations to monitor and hold accountable the Chisinau Mayor’s Office for the accessibility of infrastructure and public services and for putting in place and maintaining functional the interaction mechanism. Through a resolution, the participants will agree to evaluate periodically the progress made by Chisinau Mayor’s Office in transforming the city and keeping up the mechanism.

 

2.3 Action Plan

  1. To organize two (separate) meetings with representatives of PwD & NGOs and with representatives of Chisinau Mayor’s Office in order to introduce them to the project, identify the main challenges and opportunities for solutions;

 

  1. Analyze the outcomes of the introduction meetings and envisage solutions that would be relevant/similar to those applied by the Boston Mayor’s Disability Commission;

 

  1. Organize a workshop dedicated to configuring the mechanism of promoting disability rights dimension in Chisinau Mayor’s Office’s policies and programs. At the event will attend representatives of the local administration, representatives and NGOs of PwD, donor organizations and IGO, Equality Council.

 

  1. To introduce the expert from Boston Disability Commission to local cultural places, cuisine and to facilitate her interaction (formal and non-formal) with relevant stake-holders.

 

3. Project implementation

The implementation of the project was been carried out accordingly to the Action Plan and schedule approved earlier by the American Councils for International Education:

  1. On September 08, Ion Schidu/PFP Alumnus has met Jessica Doonan, the Chief of Staff of Boston Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, at Chisinau airport. They had a traditional lunch in a nice and cozy place and later facilitated her check-in at the Regency hotel;
  2. On September 09, Jessica Doonan together with the representatives of the partnering organization (Centre for the Rights of People with Disabilities, NGO) and the PFP Alumnus had a traditional dinner at “La Crisma” restaurant. The US expert learned in a non-formal atmosphere about the partners and their work in Moldova;

Meeting the colleagues from the Centre for the Rights of People with Disabilities, NGO

The performance of a band of traditional musicians ( link)

  1. On September 10 (10.30 AM – 12 PM), the US expert, PFP Alumnus and the representatives of partnering organizations, visited Chisinau Mayor’s Office in order to participate in an introductory and evaluation meeting with representatives of the Mayor’s Office and other relevant departments and agencies. The participants were introduced to the structure, work and the mechanisms of engagement of Boston Disability Commission with the community. As a result of that meeting, The Vice Mayor has shown his engagement in creating a similar structure within the Chisinau City Hall (Advisory Council + a person within the City Hall which will ensure the engagement with the Advisory Board and the community of people with special needs) by the end of this year. He also mentioned that he hopes that starting with 2019 the City Hall will be able to allocate budget for the functioning of the mechanism. The Vice Mayor agreed to delegate to the joint workshop on configuring the mechanism, planned for September 12, the representatives of the City Hall. Chisinau City Hall’s press release (link).Location: Chisinau Mayor’s Office.

The working meeting of Ms. Jessica Donnan with the Vice Mayor and the heads of departments and City agencies

Vitalie Meșter (CDPD, NGO), Jessica Doonan and Nistor Grozavu (Vice Mayor of Chisinau) holding a gift from the Vice Mayor (a painting made with red wine of a traditional house)

  1. On the same day, September 10 (2.00 – 4.30 PM), the US expert has participated in a similar introductory and evaluation meeting with representatives of NGOs, organizations of people with special needs, ombudsman, Equality Council, OHCHR introducing the participants to the structure, work and the mechanisms of engagement of Boston Disability Commission with the community. The event was translated live on an on-line news platform “privesc.eu” and became news on a few TV channels (TVR and Realitatea TV). The participants agreed to work together on configuring the mechanism within a joint workshop on September 12. Location: Summit Events & Conference Center, Red room

The meeting of Ms. Jessica Doonan with the community of people with special needs and human rights organizations

The presentation of Boston Disability Commission

  1. On September 11 (10AM -1PM), the US expert, together with the representatives of partnering organizations, participated in a working session dedicated to systemizing the information and preparing for the joint workshop (creation of thematic subgroups, identify the leaders of the subgroups, etc.).
  2. On September 12 (9.30 AM – 4.30 PM), the US expert, together with the representatives of partnering organizations, CSOs and organizations of people with special needs, representatives of the Mayor’s Office and other relevant departments and agencies, participated in a workshop dedicated to configuring the mechanism of promoting accessibility and disability rights in the policies and programs of Chisinau Mayor’s Office. Location: Summit Events & Conference Center, room Barcelona.

The joint workshop. On the picture Jessica Doonan and Vitalie Meșter (CDPD, NGO)

  1. On September 13 (10AM -1PM), the US expert, the PFP Alumnus, together with the representatives of the partner-organization participated in a follow-up meeting in order to summarize the results of the workshop. Location: CDPD’s office.

Ms. Jessica Doonan, the PFP Alumni and the staff of CDPD wearing the t-shirts and caps of the campaign “Chisinau – accessible for everyone”

  1. On the same day, September 13 (~ 4.00 PM), Ms. Jessica Doonan, together with the implementing have visited the historical site ”Orheiul Vechi” and had dinner at “Vila Etnica” restaurant.

  1. On September 14 (morning), Ms. Jessica Doonan and Ion Schidu had a working meeting with the Public Affairs Officers from the US Embassy, where they have shared impressions about the results of the outbound project and the visit to Moldova.
  2. On September 14 (afternoon), Ms. Jessica Doonan and the team have visited the Guinness records underground wine cellars “Milestii Mici” for a guided tour;

  1. On September 15, Ms. Jessica Doonan has departured to the US. The whole implementing team loved to have her here. She promised to come back to see again all of her new Moldavian friends! 🙂

THANK YOU, AMERICAN COUNCILS FOR INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION!

 

Written on October 9, 2018

by PFP Alumni, Spring 2018 cohort, Ion Schidu