I Made Wikandana (Wikan) is a national UN Volunteer Disability Inclusion Officer with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Indonesia. According to a paper published in 2020, three out of 10 children with disabilities have never attended school. This makes mainstreaming disability inclusion all the more important – a priority for UNICEF in the region.
Everyone possesses the spirit of a leader, believes Wikan. His leadership spirit led him to help his community through a UN Volunteer assignment that began in November 2021.
Wikan's main responsibility with UNICEF includes mainstreaming disability-inclusion practices for children with disabilities. He ensures that across the board in Education, WASH, Child Protection, Nutrition, Health, Social Policy, and Emergency and Disaster Risk Reduction programmes include and are sensitive to the needs of children with disabilities.
He also provides an important link between the Organization of Persons with Disabilities and UNICEF by assisting his colleagues as an intermediary to communicate with persons with disabilities.
My biggest motivation as a UN Volunteer is to be able to contribute to my community. I wholeheartedly believe that by meaningfully engaging with children, adolescents, or young people with disabilities, I open spaces to let them advocate for the issues affecting them. Because no one knows their rights, needs, and interests as a person with a disability better than themselves. --I Made Wikanda, national UN Volunteer Disability Inclusion Officer
One of the most challenging part of Wikan's service is the lack of resources and insufficient data, which makes it difficult in reaching out to children, adolescents, or young people with disabilities, and also affects programme implementation.
Every work I do, I always try to embrace their participation, better engagement, creating positive impact not only toward the issues they are fighting for but also increasing their capacity as a leader for within their own community. --I Made Wikanda
As a Disability Inclusion Officer, Wikan has gained knowledge and professional skills. Being in a global organization and a multicultural environment has accorded many possibilities, but he values his contribution to global issues the most.
”Wikan maintains the channels of communications within and outside the organization, providing technical inputs, critical review and troubleshooting, as well as his unique perspective both as a young professional and a community representative,” says Anissa Elok Budiyani, National Officer for Education and managing Gender, Adolescents and Disability Inclusion Portfolios at UNICEF. ”While doing so, he has been able to model professional behavior, demonstrating patience and flexibility in adjusting his approaches to dealing with multiple stakeholders. It is my hope that he will continue to lead disability inclusion works.”
A UN Volunteer with a disability, Wikan shares his perspectives with his colleagues who, earlier were unfamiliar with the topic of disability inclusion and why it is so important for sustainable development.
It has provided me with one of the best platforms to represent the value add of disability inclusion to the mainstream forum and to increase the capacity of my colleagues in this area," concludes Wikan.
I Made Wikandana (first from left in second row), national UN Volunteer Disability Inclusion Officer with UNICEF Indonesia, during the Capacity Development Workshop in Bangkok, Thailand. @UNV, 2022.
This article was prepared with the kind support of Online Volunteer Kathakali Das Bhaumik.