Disability, Sexuality and Rights Online Institute
CREA’s annual Disability, Sexuality and Rights Online Institute (DSROI) is a six-week-long online course that began in 2010. It provides a conceptual study of disability, gender, and sexuality, and its interlinkages with feminism, sexual and gender diversity, racial justice, sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence, media, art, representation, and law, amongst others. The Institute uses a rights-based approach and practical action models, with a strong focus on initiatives by activists to address disability justice in practice with an intersectional and global South lens. The Institute is designed and taught by an international group of academics and activists in the disability rights field, specializing in sexual and reproductive rights and health.
“I feel like we weren’t only lectured, I feel like we co-created and co-thought and co-learnt together as we thought about how it was important for us to build a vision as opposed to just coming here to listen to people. I love that it was a space where we would stop in the middle of a lecture to affirm people’s ideas, to fold these into situations where you can really bring our experiences together to create something vast and create something kinder and create something more gentle.”
— participant of DSROI 2022
The Institute aims to address the dearth of disability-centric dialogue, literature, and fieldwork with a cross-disability focus. DSROI enables organizations and activists who have not focused on disability rights previously, to apply a disability rights lens into their gender and sexuality work. For example, after completing the DSROI, a gender justice activist in Guatemala began collaborating with feminist collectives with disabilities to try and build cross-movement learning and cooperation. Many alumni also acknowledge that after the Institute they included disability rights within their organizations’ strategic frameworks, funding, or programming.
The Institute is conducted entirely online, and CREA works to continuously ensure that the Institute space is fully accessible to all participants. In 2021 and onwards, the DSROI is conducted on a new and more accessible online platform. DSROI also constantly updates its course material to keep complicating and exploring all topics within the broader thematic area of disability, sexuality, and rights. In 2022, the Institute focused on exploring joy as well as community care and how it relates to sexuality and disability.
Because we live in an ableist system, as disabled folks we always sort of doubt if we will be good at this or we will not be good at this, so I was doubting if I would be good at advocacy work, or even if I’m meant for advocacy work, but listening to and hearing so many lived experiences of activists and people who have been in the community, has really affirmed my belief, my self-belief in advocacy as well. DSROI has sort of given me an education that I don’t think academia has given me. It helped me feel very represented and helped me feel that my voice is being centered. And it was so easy to learn on DSROI because there were accessibility aids that were given to us.
— participant of DSROI 2022
In 2022, CREA also expanded the global Institute to begin regional DSROI Institutes. The regional Institutes remain thematically the same as the primary global DSROI, but with additional relevance and context to the region and/or country. CREA piloted the regional Institutes for partner organizations of the CREA-led Women Gaining Ground (WGG) consortium. WGG focuses on building the capacity and transformative leadership of women with disabilities, and young women and girls, to equip them to lead political and social transformation to redefine, prevent, and eliminate sexual and gender-based violence. The regional Institutes (and others) were initiated by dedicating the space to partner organizations of the WGG consortium in order to work together and design the Institute contextually while also building the capacity of WGG partners.
The Hindi DSROI began in 2022, and focused on the importance of holding deep theoretical knowledge in Hindi for community and regional level work.
DSROI East Africa was conducted in 2023 for partner organizations of the WGG consortium, and the DSROI Bangladesh will also take place in 2023 for partner organizations of the consortium.
The second-editions of all regional Institutes will be open to the public.