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U.S. Embassy networking event brings together disability rights advocates and organisations

Featured U.S. Embassy networking event brings together disability rights advocates and organisations

A networking event for organisations and advocates in the field of accessibility was organised at the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence in Athens, with the aim of fostering networks among disability rights advocates and organisations, as well as between the Embassy. It also aimed at fostering dialogue and partnerships between U.S. and local stakeholders in the field of disability rights.

The event, which was fully accessible and included signature interpretation, was held on Wednesday morning and facilitated networking among organisations by introducing a "speed-dating" format. This setup was designed to ensure participants could engage the other organisations present, fostering a sense of unity and collaboration.

More specifically, the participants were assigned to tables where they had 2.5 minutes to present their organisation’s work, followed by their partner's presentation. The format ensured dynamic interaction and broadened opportunities for networking and collaboration.
Echoing U.S. Special Envoy for Disabilities Sara Minkara’s call for "Nothing about us without us", the event underlined the importance of direct involvement and input from the disabilities community.

The embassy noted that the U.S. Government is committed to advancing human rights and social inclusion and stressed the idea that collaboration and understanding among organisations can amplify their impact.

"“ Advancing equity is a U.S. government policy priority," said U.S. Embassy Athens Deputy Chief of Mission Maria Olson. "If you’ve been following the U.S. Embassy or our Ambassador, you already know that the inclusion and full participation of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society is a belief we hold dear. It is the reason we are gathered here today. Today’s engagement is part of our Mission’s commitment to ensure that persons with disabilities have the same rights as all people because disability rights are basic human rights. It's also smart economic policy to promote the full participation of all members of societies in the workforce; we're strengthened by our diversity,” she added.

In a similar vein, U.S. Embassy Athens Counselor for Public Affairs Kristin Roberts said: “ The idea is simple: there is strength in numbers. The better you know and understand the other people and organisations working in the disabilities and inclusion sphere, the greater the likelihood of our collective success. As dedicated advocates, NGO professionals, stakeholders and allies, let’s join forces, let’s meet and share our knowledge, let’s find areas for collaboration with other dedicated advocates. We should not approach our work through the lens of scarcity but through the lens of abundance.”

The event brought together a diverse group of civil society organisations, individual advocates, and academics in Greece.

The U.S. Embassy expressed its desire to continue building on this in pursuing future initiatives and follow-up activities to further advance the rights and inclusion of all people in aspects social, economic, and political life.