RI Global What’s On: April 2017 Newsletter, Equal Participation For PwDs, Women In SDGs

RI Global What’s On, April 2017
Equal Participation for PwDs and Women in the SDGs: CoSP10
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April 2017: Equal Participation of Women and PwDs in Humanitarian Events, SDGs 

RI Global continues work on SDGs, prepares for CoSP10

Although the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) went into action six years before the Convention on the Rights of Personas with Disabilities (CRPD) was passed, they nonetheless excluded one of the most marginalized groups in the world: Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). It was a mistake the United Nations resolved not to make twice.

After the Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs) replaced the MDGs, world leaders determined that PwDs participation and recognition as active contributing members of society was not only necessary, that the  Sustainable Development Goals could not attain achievement without them. Progress has been made, but the overarching theme for the UN this year – and subsequently at June’s Convention of the States’ Parties on the CRPD – is PwD inclusion in all matters of their global futures. But to assure that, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has drawn up some guidelines.

  1. To ensure that persons with disabilities are active participants at the global and national level as policies are developed to promote sustainable development and peace. In Bhutan, the UNDP has backed PwDs in the formulation of national development plans, identifying them as a priority group.
  2. Gathering and analysing data to measure progress. One of the massive areas for improvement for the SDGs is justice sector reform, which requires understanding how marginalized groups in general, and persons with disabilities in particular, face mistreatment and are disproportionately denied access to justice. Women and girls who are disabled are at a higher risk of violence and abuse. Statistics collected on violence should reflect this reality.
  3. Development programmes will specifically promote the rights of persons with disabilities and actively partner with disabled persons organizations. In Cambodia, UNDP works with UNICEF and WHO to support national efforts to coordinate and implement the National Disability Strategic Plan and to strengthen Cambodian Disabled Persons Organizations.

The Second Decade of the CRPD: Inclusion and full participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations in the implementation of the Convention, or CoSP10 takes place from 13-15 June. It also explores the full participation of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action, as well as the promotion of inclusive urban development and implementation of the New Urban Agenda –  Habitat III.

UN disability rights committee opens with a call to spotlight gender issues
The United Nations committee monitoring efforts to protect rights of persons with disabilities today opened its spring session in Geneva last month with a call to pay special attention to gender issues. “We do urge you to ensure a strong gender basis is built in to your agenda this year, and we urge you to take special care to ensure that the voice and experience of girls and women resonates within your deliberations,” said Kate Gilmore, the UN’s Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights.In this session, the Committee, consisting of 18 international independent experts, will review the rights of people with disabilities in the Republic of Moldova, Iran, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jordan, Armenia, Honduras and Canada. As these are among 172 States that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, they are required to submit regular reports to the Committee and undergo question and answer sessions about their CRPD initiatives. Rather than considering disability as an issue of medicine, charity or dependency, the CRPD challenges people worldwide to understand disability as a human rights issue.

But Gilmore said that one thing lacked on the Committee: gender parity.  The fact that only one woman has been elected by Member States to serve on the Committee is “fundamentally not appropriate,” Ms. Gilmore said, urging Member States to “rectify this unacceptable situation” at the next elections. The issues likely to be discussed, the States’ reports, plus information from civil society organisations, can be found at the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights. The Committee will publish its findings on 13 April 2017.

RI Global President plans trip to US in spring 
Since her inauguration in October 2016, RI Global President Zhang Haidi has been on-the-go in China and around the world. Under her leadership in RI and the China Disabled Persons’ Federation, Zhang help implement a series of measures affecting the college entrance examination for the disabled in China. For the first time, candidates with disabilities may use braille and big character test paper for the examination. Just before the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, she appeared at 11th Beijing International Forum on Rehabilitation to speak on the WHO Action plan on better health for PwDs, the Incheon Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction and the Gates Project.And her tenure is still in its infancy.

Just early this year, Zhang helped the Chinese government establish a living allowance system for poverty-stricken disabled persons and a nursing subsidy system for people with severe disabilities, to further improve their living conditions.

“We should promote the development of high-tech, high-intelligence, and high-quality assistive devices, and try to lower the cost, so that more and more people could benefit from the devices,” Zhang has said of the work on accessibility. Along those lines, RI President Zhang has announced an upcoming visit to the U.S. this Spring, likely to take place around the 10th session of the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD in June. At the CoSP10, Zhang will lead Rehabilitation International in addressing the impact of multiple discrimination on persons with disabilities, and will also unveil goals for RI Global including an Africa outreach initiative and renewed engagement with the Latin America region.

RI GLOBAL: On the Agenda

At CSW61, the Norwegian Women’s Public Health Association – the largest women’s association – held its annual seminar, supported by RI Global Past-President Jan Monsbakken, focusing on Women’s Economic Empowerment: The Norwegian Model.

RI Global Calendar for 2017

UNISDR Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction,
This platform is a biennial forum for information exchange, discussion of latest developments, knowledge and partnership-building across sectors, with the goal of improving implementation of disaster risk reduction through better communication and coordination amongst stakeholders, including persons with disabilities.
22 to 26 May, Cancun, Mexico M-Enabling Summit 2017: A joint initiative of the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ict) and E.J. Krause & Associates (EJK), the M-Enabling Summit promotes accessible technologies and environments for senior citizens and persons with disabilities.
12-14 June, Washington, D.C., USA

10th Conference of States Parties to the CRPD
Article 40 of the Convention stipulates that “The States Parties shall meet regularly in a Conference of States Parties (COSP) in order to consider any matter with regard to the implementation of the present Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).” Accreditation for new NGOs and Registration will begin in March 2017.
13 to 15 June, UN Headquarters, New York, NY

High-Level Political Forum (HLPF)
The theme of this year’s HLPF will be Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world. The set of goals to be reviewed in depth include Goal 17, which strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.
10 to 19 July, UN Headquarters, New York, NY

3rd International Conference of the World Federation of the Deaf
The conference will elaborate different themes on the occasion of plenary, section and board meetings: bilingual education, sign language in the families, deaf employees at employment market, communication without barriers, new IT revolution, and participation in the decision-making process.
8 to 10 November, Budapest, Hungary

International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Since 1992, the annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
3 December, UN Headquarters, New York, NY

The delegation from the United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD) celebrating the passing of the CRPD in 2006.
The United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD) 
Chris Damon could not have picked a more momentous time to rejoin USICD’s staff as a full-time intern than fall 2016. A year into his dual-degree graduate school program at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, he went to Washington, DC, to work with USICD to track U.S. Senate candidates’ attitudes toward the CRPD.

Although touched that so many candidates seemed to care about the rights and struggles of PwDs and that 13 different campaigns supported the CRPD, he felt dismay when he saw how the CRPD sometimes fell through the cracks on Capitol Hill. “Nonetheless, despite the odds we faced, there was always a hope that putting whatever information we had out there would make a difference,” Damon said.Advocating for the CRPD in the States is just one aspect of many facets of work done by USICD, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Since 1992, the constituent-led organization has committed to building bridges between American and international disability communities. It promotes such practical things as the Global Disability Rights Library, which delivers digital knowledge on disability rights to advocates, policymakers, and civil society institutions in developing countries. And the USICD lobbies for a commitment to disability inclusion in all areas of United States foreign affairs.

Located in Washington, DC and led by President Patricia Morrissey, for 2017 the USICD has prioritized a new partnership with the U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) and will conduct a roundtable on including PwDs in the international business workforce. It is also collaborating with to global DPOs to seek ways for more meaningful contributions through U.S. foreign affairs. Finally, it will continue the effort to convince the U.S. to ratify the CRPD, which failed to pass in the Senate in 2012 by just five votes.

“If we visit a country and we see people with disabilities everywhere doing things with others, we can conclude that things on the disability rights side are in order,” Morrissey said. “On the flipside, if we don’t see people with disabilities everywhere doing things with others, we know there’s work to be done. Everyone in the U.S. has the opportunity to play a direct or indirect role in places where work needs to be done.”


Affordable tennis wheelchair hits the market
A partnership between the Tennis Foundation and ROMA Sport will tackle one of the key barriers to junior and grassroots participation in wheelchair tennis: an affordable tennis wheelchair. ROMA Sport’s has launched a new specially designed chair with a lightweight steel frame and features such as adjustable settings to adapt as a player develops from a beginner to a regular. The sells for £645 for adults and £620 for youths, with a further discount for any chairs ordered through the Tennis Foundation – making the cost 60 percent less than a typical entry level tennis specific chair. The Tennis Foundation aims to have over 10,000 disabled people playing tennis regularly at its venues by the end of 2020.
Berkeley Make-a-thon creates devices for PwDs
Nearly 100 innovators, makers, students and people with disabilities gathered at the UC Berkeley Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation for a three-day, technology-building marathon earlier this month to create devices that help people with disabilities overcome everyday challenges. Teams worked in state-of-the-art workshops and used such equipment as 3D printers, laser cutters, water jet cutters and electronics fabricators to build physical prototypes for items such as a mouth-controlled mechanical grabber for everyday tasks. TOM: Berkeley was the newest event from the Tikkun Olam Makers (TOM) community, a global movement of makers, designers, developers and innovators who solve challenges faced by people living with disabilities worldwide.

Winter Paralympics event showcases new events
March marked one year to go until the next Paralympic Winter Games, and outgoing International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven has said that the 2018 games in PyeongChang, South Korea are set to be the biggest yet with up to 670 athletes from 45 nations competing in 80 medal events. He added that the depth of talent in each sport has never been stronger, with a number of new athletes coming to the fore. “The competition is more exciting than ever before with athletes greatly raising the bar in terms of performance,” Craven said at ribbon-cutting ceremony last month. One of the sports to watch is alpine skiing, in which a trio of teenagers – 17-year-old Dutch sit-skier Jeroen Kampschreur, 18-year-old visually impaired downhiller Brit Millie Knight and 16-year-old, standing class champ, Arthur Bauchet – could prove unbeatable. Other events, such as the World Wheelchair Curling Championships, have attracted thousands, proving that the Paralympics continue to grow in popularity. “You only have to look at social media to see how excited many athletes are to be competing in South Korea for the first time to realise that something special will take place at PyeongChang,” Craven said.

American University to portray PwDs in a different tone
The Human Development Institute at the University of Kentucky (HDI) has been expanding its photo library to improve the broad representation of people with disabilities from diverse backgrounds. As photos play a critical role in portraying diverse people with disabilities, HDI’s Stephanie Meredith and Harold Kleinert will coordinate photo shoots with various disability organizations to also show PwDs as active participants in the world. The initiative will also mark the first time an individual with Down syndrome will participate as one of the principal photographers in a major disability project. “Photography is particularly vital in promoting understanding across literacy levels and cultures and has been demonstrated as integral in improving health communications,” Meredith said.

One of India’s largest travel companies has launched tour packages for persons with disabilities. Cox & Kings has come out with “Enable India” to make tourism “more inclusive and accessible” for PwDs.


Statements for Disaster Risk Reduction Conference
The United Nations is currently accepting requests to make official three-minute statements at the 2017 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, taking place in Cancun, Mexico from 22-26 May. The online registration system allows for one official statement per delegation, and will allocate slots on a first come, first served basis until all slots are filled. All delegations have the ability to make changes, such as updating the attached statement, or changing the speaker. For further information related to Official Statements, please contact Ms. Ana Cristina Thorlund at gp-statements@un.org. The online registration process will close on 19 May.Call for youth delegates to CoSP10
One form of youth participation at the UN is the inclusion of youth delegates in a country’s official delegation to the UN General Assembly and various functional Commissions of the Economic and Social Council. This year’s annual COSP is currently looking for youth delegates, whose roles vary from  providing input to their delegation on issues related to youth and who attend meetings and informal negotiations. Contact your Government’s Foreign Office or official delegation to the United Nations and enquire about becoming a youth delegate to the annual COSP. More information on the workings of a UN Youth Delegate programme is available at UN Youth website.

Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) announces the 2017 Robert Pearson Scholarship campaign
Entering its sixth year, the AMI Robert Pearson Memorial Scholarship program offers much needed financial assistance to students with disabilities. The scholarship was renamed in 2016 in memory of AMI’s former Accessibility Officer, Robert Pearson, who passed away suddenly in December 2015. In 2017, AMI will once again collaborate with the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS) to two $5,000 bursaries to two deserving students with a permanent disability; one from the English community and one from the French. The AMI Robert Pearson Memorial Scholarship contest concludes 30 April 2017. Complete rules and regulations are available on the English website or the French website.

Nominations for the 2017 Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize
The VaHavel Prize, which consists of a sum of €60000, a trophy and a diploma, rewards outstanding civil society action in the defence of human rights in Europe and beyond. It is open to nominations from any individual, NGO or institution working to defend human rights. The deadline for nominations for the 2017 edition of the Prize is 30 April 2017. The Award Ceremony will take place in the Assembly Chamber on 9 October 2017. Prize regulations and the nomination forms can be found on the Assembly’s website or email hrprize.pace@coe.int.

New occupational therapy website facilitates innovation 
The World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT), the official representative of occupational therapy and occupational therapists worldwide, has launched the Occupational Therapy International Online Network (OTION). The network is a dedicated interactive forum that enables occupational therapists, assistants and students from across the world to network, share ideas and communicate with the profession as a whole. OTION is a free resource that requires a simple registration process. A number of forums have been established within the OTION platform, including education, research and working/studying in another country. Visit OTION to sign up.

New disabled travel to India 
In a first, one of India’s largest travel companies has launched tour packages for persons with disabilities. Cox & Kings has come out with “Enable India” to make tourism “more inclusive and accessible” for persons with disabilities across mobility, hearing, speech and vision disabilities. As part of its service offering, Enable Travel will introduce quality transportation in the form of wheelchair accessible vehicles, aids and accessories like ramps and an assortment of specialised wheelchairs for those who are wheelchair bound. Support services also include investments in specially trained manpower such as caregivers, sign language interpreters, expert guides and escorts making all areas of travel accessible. To book an accessible tour of India, go to Cox & Kings.

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