Human Rights Director Barriga Visits HWS – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Human Rights Director Barriga Visits HWS

Shantha Rau Barriga, the director of disability rights at Human Rights Watch (HRW), will present a talk, “Invisible and Abused: Perspectives from Women with Disabilities in Uganda, India and Ghana,” on Wednesday, Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. in Merritt 100. Barriga will discuss the experiences of women with disabilities and share the recommendations for change that emerged from HRW’s work in these countries.

Barriga is the inaugural speaker of the Global Initiative on Disability (GID). Led by the Office of the Provost and in collaboration with the Center for Global Education, the GID aims to promote awareness, knowledge and efforts surrounding disability on a global level. Through research, international service trips, a speaker series and other programs, this initiative will be a resource to educate others about disability and to advocate for the inclusion and protection of the rights of individuals with disabilities.

“This event, and the initiative overall, will serve as a mechanism for everyone on our campus to become more aware in understanding the lives of individuals with disabilities and how our society can change to become more inclusive,” says Associate Professor of Education Helen McCabe, who serves as director of the Global Initiative on Disability. She adds it is very significant that Barriga’s work focuses on the perspectives of women with disabilities and she allows us to hear and learn from the voices of these women.

The initial work of the GID will include a focus on disability in China, an area in which McCabe has extensive background in research and service. She is conducting new research and planning a student service trip to China for spring 2015, through which students will be able to volunteer at organizations for children with disabilities. She welcomes any students who have similar interests in promoting discussion and action regarding disability to collaborate with this initiative.

Solomé Rose, Global and Community Leadership Fellow at the Centennial Center for Leadership, joins McCabe on the Global Initiative on Disability. In her role at the GID, Rose will assist in the development of disability related programmatic efforts. Rose also expects the community will gain a broader understanding of disability, especially within the confines of human rights, after listening to Barriga.

“We often forget that issues of disability intersect with a broad range of sectors including health, politics, economics and education. Access to every sector is a right that many of us enjoy and often take for granted,” Rose says. “By drawing upon the experiences of women living with disabilities in the Global South, I believe Ms. Barriga will help us all see that issues of disability are a pressing human rights concern facing our generation.”

The event is free and open to the public.