Musawa II

Opening a dialogue between EU & Arab organisations of persons with disabilities

The project MUSAWA II (Capacity building of organisations of persons with disabilities in the Mediterranean) aimed at promoting a dialogue between European and Arab organisations of persons with disabilities. The project put in place a programme of capacity building of organisations of persons with disabilities in human rights and advocacy at national and regional level. It included an assessment of compliance of legislative and policy making, as well as its implementation in compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).


The project’s objectives focused on the development of a better coordinated movement for persons with disabilities which is:

  • more democratic and inclusive in every country;
  • inclusive for women with disabilities;
  • efficient and performing;
  • participating in the international movement of persons with disabilities.


Lead partners of the project were the European Disability Forum (EDF) and the Arab Organisation of Persons with Disabilities (AOPD), the regional coalition of organisations of persons with disabilities in different Arab countries. AOPD’s main objective was to promote the rights of persons with disabilities, to empower people with disabilities and to represent Arab persons with disabilities in the world at large.

The project counted on the support of the Spanish Committee of People with Disabilities (CERMI).

"This cooperation comes in the most historical moment for both areas: the Arab democratic spring and the European economic crisis. We see profound changes taking place in Arabic countries. But also in the EU zone, we are facing a profound economic crisis, which becomes more and more a human rights crisis. In this challenging time, it is very important to increase the capacity of our organisations, to be able to represent the persons with disabilities, to communicate and fight for their rights. In this difficult situation, cooperation is very important", said EDF President, Yannis Vardakastanis.

"What is needed in the Arab spring is a paradigm shift in dealing with social issues in the Arab world so that citizens are in charge of determining the policies of their governments and not the other way around. It is, therefore, vital for the disability movement to ensure that disability is going to be in the agenda. We look forward to a continual constructive cooperation between the European and the Arab disability movement and to an exchange of experiences towards better policies for persons with disabilities", added AOPD President, Nawaf Kabbara.

The project lasted until 31 December 2013 and it was supported by the Spanish Agency for Cooperation and Development (AECID) funded programme Permanent Open Call (CAP-2).


The activities of the project were foreseen at regional level and at national level in the countries covered by the project (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine territories and Tunisia) including activities with national organisations and one seminar per country on the UN CRPD.

Regional conferences

The project had foreseen 4 regional conferences (2 in the Arab region and 2 in Europe).

The first conference took place on 14 December 2012 at the European Economic and Social Committee premises, entitled: "The European – Arab International Cooperation: A common agenda for the UN CRPD".

Read more here

The second conference took place in Cairo on 27-28 April 2013, entitled: "The Arab Forum of Women with Disabilities: Women with disabilities between rights and norms".

More information is available here

The third conference took place in Tunis on 6-7 September 2013, entitled: "The First Regional Conference of Arab Deaf Persons: To Promote Human Rights for Deaf Persons in the Arab World".

Find out more here

The fourth conference took place on 22-23 November in Madrid focusing on how to build Euro-Mediterranean cooperation when it comes to the human rights of persons with disabilities.

Find out more here

National trainings

The project had foreseen 6 training activities in the region on the implementation of the UN CRPD. The first one took place in Cairo on 1-2 December 2012 focusing on: "The UN CRPD revolution in Egypt. Nothing about us without us: The Egyptian disability movement proposals for the next decade".


On the 27-29 June 2012, the international conferences "Challenges in the new millennium for women with disabilities" counted with the participation of a delegation of Women from the MUSAWA II project. The women’s conference was structured in four sessions and aimed to provide a forum for analysis, debate and discussion around the fundamental human rights of women and girls with disabilities in United Nations treaties, violence against women with disabilities, the sexual and reproductive rights of women with disabilities and gender mainstreaming in the UN CRPD.

The conference was preceded by a joint meeting between EDF women's committee and the delegation from the Arab countries.