top of page


Including people with intellectual disabilities in leadership improves an organisation.

The organisation gets to use the skills and ideas of self-advocates, and they become a role model for inclusion to others. This is especially important for organisations that advocate for human rights.

If people with intellectual disabilities are not given the right support to learn, build skills, make decisions, and share their opinions within an organisation, their position in leadership is tokenistic.

Self-advocates told us:

  • People with an intellectual disability are denied choice and the right to make decisions. This means that their voices are often not heard.

  • People with intellectual disabilities do not usually get leadership positions, like being board members or advisors

  • If you are used to being excluded and not listened to, becoming a leader and getting used to making decisions takes time and practice.

  • Self-advocacy empowers people with intellectual disabilities to move from personal decision-making to representing others. 


Types of leadership:


Inclusive leadership in organsiations


Supporting Self-advocacy


Decision making

Good examples 

People First New Zealand Ngā Tāngata Tuatahi is a national Disabled Person Organisation in New Zealand. 

People First New Zealand assists people with intellectual disabilities to understand their rights and become active self-advocates. They also advocate and work with policy-makers to make sure the rights of people with intellectual disabilities are real and respected in New Zealand. 

People First New Zealand is led by a National Committee who are self-advocates. The Committee make the decisions about the work of People First New Zealand. They are assisted by advisors who make sure the information needed to make decisions is clear and understood.

People First New Zealand also assist their members to be leaders and make decisions at other organisations that are working for inclusion. For example, their Life member, Sir Robert Martin, has served on the Inclusion International Council and is part of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

01-PeopleFirstTeam-National Committee-full colour-light.jpg
bottom of page