As 2023 draws to a close, it’s a moment of pride and introspection for the Global Network of Young Persons with Disabilities (GNYPWD). Our journey over the past year has been marked by significant achievements, innovative initiatives, and a steadfast commitment to empowering young persons with disabilities. Here, we delve into the specifics of our milestones and the exciting path that lies ahead.
Building a Vibrant and Inclusive Community
The core of GNYPWD’s success in 2023 has been the strengthening of our community. Through focused capacity building, workshops, and webinars, we’ve expanded our network, engaging members in vital discussions around inclusive design and leveraging technology for innovation. These events have been instrumental in fostering a sense of community and shared purpose.
Diverse Voices, Unified Goals: The Diversity Dialog Podcast Series
A standout initiative this year was the launch of our podcast series, “Diversity Dialog.” This platform allowed young advocates and our partners to share their perspectives and amplify their work. Notably, the series featured eminent stakeholders like representatives from UNFPA and Microsoft, along with young innovators and advocates with disabilities. The series received an overwhelmingly positive response, highlighting the power of shared stories and experiences.
Pioneering the Innovation Challenge
In collaboration with UNFPA and the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub), GNYPWD organized an innovation challenge focused on sexual and reproductive rights and health. The challenge received an impressive 225 applications. We selected four winners globally, who presented pioneering solutions incorporating advanced technologies. These prototypes are now being further developed, showcasing the potential of technology in addressing critical issues.
Empowering Advocacy through Micro-Funding
To support small-scale advocacy projects, GNYPWD introduced micro-funding seed grants. These grants have so far supported two projects focusing on non-apparent disabilities and mental health. In addition to funding, we provided capacity building to other applicants, helping them refine their projects for future funding opportunities.
Enhancing Technology for Accessibility
A significant achievement this year was the enhancement of GNYPWD’s Accessible Connect. This platform now includes community features, resources, podcasts, and support for grant applications using generative AI. This also includes accessibility support features. We are currently working to further extend our reach through WhatsApp, catering to those without computer access or digital literacy.
Our advocacy initiatives were a driving force in promoting the rights and inclusion of young persons with disabilities. Our involvement with the Disability Task Team, comprising several UN agencies and Disabled Persons’ Organizations (DPOs), enabled us to contribute meaningfully to various global projects, whitepapers, and reports. This collaboration ensured that the perspectives and unique challenges of young persons with disabilities were integrated into global policy-making and practices.
A key highlight of our advocacy work was contributing to the Checklist to Ensure the Meaningful Engagement of Youth with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action. This crucial document guides organizations in inclusive practices during humanitarian crises. Additionally, recognizing the gap in global disability data, GNYPWD embarked on developing tech-powered solutions for safe and respectful data collection in humanitarian action based on Washington group of questions alongside other young people with disabilities. These initiatives set the stage for more comprehensive and inclusive policies and programs, shaping a more equitable future for persons with disabilities.
Celebrating Recognition and Advancing Advocacy
GNYPWD’s efforts in 2023 have been recognized globally. We were honored to be selected as an MIT Solve 2023 solver, additionally winning the GM Prize, The AI for Humanity Prize sponsored by The Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, and the HP Prize for Accelerating Digital Equity. This recognition was a great reinforcement and encouragement for us to continue on our journey.
Looking Ahead: Our 2024 Vision
The upcoming year is poised to be a continuation of our commitment to community engagement, leveraging technology, and providing platforms for young disability advocates. We aim to foster meaningful partnerships and develop robust institutional frameworks, including a robust sustainability strategy.
Join Our Movement
- Young Persons with Disabilities: We invite you to join our network and be a part of this transformative journey.
- Organizations: Partner with us to create greater impact.
- Funders and Investors: Your support in AI and accessibility can help scale our initiatives.
As we reflect on the year gone by and look towards a bright and inclusive future, we extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has been a part of this incredible journey. Your support, dedication, and belief in our mission have been the cornerstone of our success. Here to continued collaboration, innovation, and empowerment in 2024 and beyond.