Washington — Sixty disability and civil society organizations from 20 countries have been selected to participate in the U.S. Department of State's Professional Fellows EMPOWER Program for 2013.
"This two-way exchange program will expand the capacity of organizations in the United States and overseas to promote inclusive communities and advance disability rights around the world, a key theme of U.S. public diplomacy efforts globally," the State Department said in a July 30 press release.
Participating countries include Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, India, Israel, Kenya, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Serbia, South Korea, Tajikistan, Ukraine and the United States.
EMPOWER teams will focus on a range of topics including independent living, health care, law and policy, legal aid, inclusive education, recreation and sports, access to public services, and advocacy for all persons with disabilities, the department said.
In August and September, U.S. participants will travel to their partners' home countries to gain an understanding of disability issues in their communities. In October, international participants will be hosted in the United States by Mobility International USA and their American counterparts to collaborate on projects that promote the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities.
The participants and their U.S. hosts will gather in Washington for a three-day conference at Gallaudet University October 31-November 2 to network with other leaders in their fields and share plans for long-term programming they will implement upon their return home.
"By placing persons with disabilities at the center of the U.S. Department of State's efforts to promote more just, equitable and inclusive societies, emerging leaders like those on the EMPOWER program have an important role to play in strengthening democracy and promoting human rights around the world," the State Department said.
To learn more about disabilities and U.S. Department of State exchange programs, visit the website of the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. To learn more about Mobility International USA's involvement in the EMPOWER program, visit the organization's website.