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Recognising Disability Rights in Maros:  Moving Together Towards Inclusive Development (FORDISMA)

The Forum for Disability Inclusion in Maros, or FORDISMA, emerges as a force driving positive change for people with disabilities in Maros District. This forum is an initiative by the Maros District government in collaboration with the BaKTI Foundation, one of the partners of the INKLUSI Program. It aims to encourage inclusive participation in development.

FORDISMA was established in December 2022 and officially inaugurated by the Maros District Mayor. It serves as a platform for people with disabilities to network, actively participate, advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, and subsequently become a government partner organization in promoting disability inclusion policies.

As a sign of local government support, FORDISMA now has its secretariat at the Maros District Social Services office. The Head of Maros District Social Services, Nuryadi, stated that the formation of FORDISMA is a significant step towards fulfilling the rights of people with disabilities in Maros.

“This organisation will play a crucial role in providing input to the government regarding the necessary steps to ensure the protection and rights of people with disabilities,” Nuryadi said.

This aligns with the drafting of the Maros District Regulation on People with Disabilities, which is derived from Maros District Regulation No. 6 of 2018 on the Respect, Protection, and Fulfilment of the Rights of People with Disabilities. It serves as a reference for the establishment of the Maros District Disability Commission, in accordance with Maros District Regulation No. 6 of 2018 on the Respect, Protection, and Fulfilment of the Rights of People with Disabilities and Law No. 8 of 2016 on Disabilities.

FORDISMA focuses on seven areas, including Advocacy, Complaints and Protection, Child Protection, Women’s Empowerment, Information and Communication, Monitoring and Evaluation, and Special Protection. The members and leaders of FORDISMA reflect the diversity of disabilities, including sensory, physical, intellectual, and multiple disabilities.

“FORDISMA is our frontline in advocating for the rights of people with disabilities. We want to change society’s perception of people with disabilities, that disability is actually a form of human diversity,” said Husain, Chairman of FORDISMA, who has had a physical disability since birth.

FORDISMA has instigated change from the village to the district level. It has successfully gathered around 2,000 members with various disabilities. They engage in various activities, including discussions, data collection, and collaborative work with the Maros District government. FORDISMA members have also been invited to participate in government decision-making forums such as village deliberations, the formulation of Inclusive Villages, participatory recesses, and various other public consultations.

Fatma, one of FORDISMA leaders, shared the transformation she experienced after joining FORDISMA. She stated that FORDISMA has boosted her self-confidence and that of her fellow people with disabilities, making their presence more recognized.

“Before FORDISMA, we, as people with disabilities, felt submerged, and now we dare to come to the surface. There’s no more discrimination or differentiation between disabled and non-disabled individuals, and our existence is more acknowledged,” expressed Fatma, who has a physical disability due to an accident.

FORDISMA members have high hopes for the forum’s future. Rezky, a Deaf person, hopes for more job opportunities and proper accessibility for fellow people with disabilities.

“We want FORDISMA to advocate for our needs, including job opportunities and accessibility, especially for Deaf individuals,” said Rezky.

Through the spirit and collaborative efforts of FORDISMA, the Maros District government, with INKLUSI and BaKTI support, aims to bring about significant change towards better social inclusion for people with disabilities. This way, every individual is valued and given equal opportunities.

Lusia Palulungan, BaKTI Program Manager explained that the INKLUSI-BaKTI Program has provided crucial support for inclusive development in Maros District. This support includes policy changes and strengthening Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), including disability organizations and communities. The INKLUSI-BaKTI Program collaborates with multiple stakeholders in seven districts and cities in Eastern Indonesia, including Maros District, with the goal of promoting positive social inclusion changes.

With full support from the Maros District government, the INKLUSI-BaKTI Program, and the determination of the disability community, FORDISMA has become a powerful agent of change in promoting better social inclusion and the fulfilment of the rights of people with disabilities in Maros District. The hope is to create an inclusive Maros District, where no one is left behind.

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