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part iii achieving the change - Disability Monitor Initiative

part iii achieving the change - Disability Monitor Initiative

Beyond

Beyond De-institutionalisation: The Unsteady Transition towards an Enabling System in South East EuropeSPOTLIGHT 9AWARENESS RAISING IN MACEDONIAPolio Plus, a DPO in Skopje, MacedoniaPolio Plus is a DPO in Macedonia with a strong competency in media awareness raising and lobbying.One of their most provocative public campaigns was ‘Nobody's Perfect’ which depicts icons of beauty andcelebrity such as Venus de Milo, Spider Man and Marilyn Monroe with prostheses. These images wereplaced on billboards throughout the city of Skopje with the words ‘Nobody's Perfect’ accompanying theimages.Nobody's Perfect is the second in a trilogy of campaigns that Polio Plus created to raise awareness of thegeneral population as to the existence of people with disabilities in the wider community and their equalrights to full citizenship. The aim of this campaign was to challenge the social representations of disability.At the core of the ‘Nobody's Perfect’ campaign is a shift in the perception of disability from viewing peoplewith disabilities as defective individuals to viewing disability as a part of the human experience.At the same time, Polio Plus placed the images on billboards in strategic parts of the city to emphasiseas well the need for media recognition of disability issues. Their actions refer to the European Congresson Disability declaration on disability and media which states:"The Media should improve the portrayal of disabled people in mass media. More information on disabledpeople should be included in the media in recognition of the existence of human diversity. When referringto disability issues, the media should avoid any patronising or humiliating approaches but focus insteadon the barriers disabled people face and the positive contribution to society disabled people can makeonce these barriers have been overcome" European Congress on Disability, Madrid. March 2002Cross-section of DonorsPolio Plus received funding for this initiative from a cross-section of donors ranging from the privatesector to the state, from local firms to multinational companies and international stakeholders including:The World Bank, Price Waterhouse, the city municipality, Share-SEE, Open Society Institute, MacedonianTelecom, and Skopska Beer Brewery. Therefore, not only international agencies are stakeholders in thisawareness campaign but also the local municipality, multinational and local businesses, as well as civilsociety have a vested interest in the project.While it is too early to judge the success of the campaigns, some indications that theinitiative has achieved visibility include:• Media interest - Radio Free Europe interviewedPolio Plus regarding the "Nobody's Perfect"campaign as part overall review of initiatives madein the field of disability rights,• NGO and DPO interest - Various local NGOsrequested campaign media to use as part of theirawareness raising initiatives,• Professional interest - the Director of St.Erasmus, a rehabilitation orthopaedic hospitaloperating under the medical model, asked for setsof the campaign posters so as to display them inthe hospital.Awareness raising within the government: theformation of theInter-Party Parliamentary Lobby Group(IPPLG)Polio Plus not only targets the public in theircampaigns, they launched an awareness raisinginitiative specifically targeted to the Macedonianparliament on the need to address disability issues ona state level. After successfully mobilising membersof parliament, Polio Plus secured the commitmentof 17 members of Parliament from different politicalparties to form the first inter-parliamentary lobbygroup in Macedonia based on disability rights. Thegoal of this group is improvement and promotion ofthe rights of persons with disability through lobbying.It will focus on disability rights and the introductionof a Disability Discrimination Act, a legal instrument‘Nobody's Perfect’ accessibility campaign poster and billboards104

Beyond De-institutionalisation: The Unsteady Transition towards an Enabling System in South East Europethat will lie across the whole of the legislature andserve as the reference point for disability issues.Of the many legal initiatives submitted by the IPPLGone important declaration was unanimously adoptedby parliament in July 2003, which morally committedit to work henceforth with reference and regard to thehuman rights of people with disabilities, drawing oninternational conventions and agreements, togetherwith reference to EU legislation.On a broader scale, the IPPLG has served as auseful role model for how state, government andparliamentary entities can and should work with NGOson the overall aim of achieving harmonisation withthe EU. In addition to promoting relevant examplesof anti-discrimination and comprehensive laws fromEurope such as the UK Disability Discrimination Act(1995), and international legal standards, the lobbygroup succeeded in raising awareness within theMacedonian parliament resulting in a "declaration forprotection of the rights and dignity of people withdisabilities".105

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