Ola Abu Alghaib is a disability rights activist in the Middle East. She focuses on ensuring that women with disabilities are fully integrated into society. Ola was born in Palestine in an area close to Nablus. Growing up, Ola Abu had big dreams and goals like any other child. Unfortunately, at only the age of 14, she had surgery, but after the procedure, she couldn’t move her right hand or walk.
While this was very devastating, but Ola says that the experience never changed who she was at heart and what she dreamed of achieving in her life. Unfortunately, it didn't take long to realize that almost everyone around her perceived her differently after the accident. So many folks around her couldn't see her live a normal life, perceived her as broken, and saw her only option in life as surviving.
Ola wanted to prove all these people wrong and strived to be an ambitious and determined woman. During her years in college, Ola Alghaib advocated for her right to an accessible campus. Her voice and efforts earned her a seat on the construction committee on her campus. Therefore, the university administration tasked her with collaborating with the University construction engineers to adapt the campus to the needs of disabled students.
After the completion of her first degree, she came across a certain German Organization that advocated for the disabled in the society. Through this German organization, Ola was able to start a rehabilitation center for disabled people. However, throughout the eight years she worked at the organization, she could see she was the only woman. Eventually, she felt that women with disabilities were not getting equal opportunities and decided to air her concerns. Unfortunately, no one cared about her concerns.
Later in 2003, Ola earned her Master's Degree from the University in Ramallah. Fast forward to 2006, she finally decided to start the Stars of Hope Society. Het main aim was to foster the abolishment of gender and disability discrimination. This is an organization whose main aim was to address the needs of women with disabilities as well as support these women to realize their rights in society and achieve their goals.
Currently, Ola Abu Alghaib works as the Director of Global Influencing and Research at Leonard Cheshire. This organization supports people with disabilities to achieve their goals and life their lives to the maximum. Her current responsibilities at this organization include program design, policy analysis, evaluation and management, research, and the creation of advocacy strategies.
She has done most of her research with UN agencies like ILO, WHO, UNESCO, NGOs, and UNICEF, among others. Also, part of her research is with the World Bank and other agencies that support people with disabilities. In addition, Ola Abu's work has included advocacy for the government to adopt the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It's impressive how Ola has also pulled her efforts to mobilize women with disabilities in Palestine, providing them with necessary counseling, skills, medical, and rehabilitation services.
In line with that, Ola developed a national advocacy campaign highlighting the forms of discrimination women with disabilities go through. At the same time, the advocacy strives to showcase just how much potential these women have, but it hasn't been realized due to their oppression. Ola has, over the years, voiced her concern that feminist movements also forget women with disabilities in most cases since disability issues make it even more complex for women's rights advocacy. She encourages women with disabilities to demand to be heard and ensure disability gets attention just like other issues.
Significantly, Ola Abu Alghaib has also held crucial roles in various policy initiatives supporting women with disabilities. For instance, she has chaired the International Disability and Development Consortium. On top of that, she represents IDD on the policy board of UNPRPD (United Nations Partnership for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities). Notably, Ola is also a member of the Global Innovation Hub, a board member of the Disability Rights Fund, and a core group member of the Together 2030 agenda.
Ola Abu Alghaib was appointed Manager of the Technical Secretariat of the UN partnership of Persons with Disabilities at UNDP in August 2019. Also, shortly after her appointment, she was named to the Gender Equality Top 100 List of the most influential people. Ola embodies the meaning of the word activist throughout her life and work. Her job primarily fights for the rights of people who are underrepresented or ignored by society