RI Global What’s On: Focusing On People — The Fall GAs

RI Global What’s On, August 2017
Focusing on People for Fall
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A disabled migrant at a refugee camp in Greece. The UN and RI Global will focus on these most vulnerable at their annual GAs.

August 2017: Focusing on People – the Fall GAs 

Preparing for two GAs: RI Global and the UN GA
The annual September gathering of world leaders in Manhattan’s Turtle Bay, known as the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has been grabbing worldwide headlines and stalling midtown traffic since 1945, when thousands of diplomats from around the world gather to set the world’s agenda. The incoming president of the General Assembly, Miroslav Lajcak of Slovakia has chosen as the theme of the 72nd session “Focusing on people: striving for peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet.” He has set peace-building, migration, climate change and human rights along with sustainable development in his statement of priorities. Migration of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) and their care in the various migrant camps has been a grave concern of RI Global and throughout the year, it and other human rights experts have fought for dedicated human and financial resources made available for PwDs, in the new Global Compact for Migration. “We are deeply concerned about the precarious situation of persons with disabilities in the current migration crisis,” said Catalina Devandas Aguilar, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She added that many countries lack formal procedures to identify migrants and refugees with disabilities and fail to provide them with essential services.

RI’s 2017 GA, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
During the UN’s three-month deliberations, Rehabilitation International will convene its Annual General Assembly from 13-15 November in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The GA this year will focus on Africa with field visits to local rehabilitation centers, workshops on the African Region and of course, the yearly evaluation of the Commissions and RI Foundation, as well as planning sessions for the future. For those who have not yet paid their 2017 dues, the RI Constitution states that dues have to be paid no less than three months from the date of a GA in order for members to exercise their right to vote. The venue of the various meetings and the GA is at theUN Conference Center for Africa, Menelik II Ave, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. RI Global is currently negotiating for a special rate for RI members with one of the nearby hotels. Details to come.

 International Paralympic Committee (IPC)  Presidential candidate Zhang Haidi during a video interview ahead of September’s IPC Governing Board elections
RI GLOBAL: Around the World
IPC candidate Zhang calls for access to sporting opportunities for all disabled
Rehabilitation International President Zhang Haidi is currently locked in a four-way race with three other candidates to replace Britain’s Sir Philip Craven as president of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). Zhang, also a longstanding chairperson of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation (CDPF), was considered a surprise contender for the top job in Paralympic sport, but the former 10-meter wheelchair air pistol shooter also serves as Executive President of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Organizing Committee. “As a Chinese woman living with an impairment, I share the hope, fear and pain of my fellow men and women living in this condition,” Zhang told inside the games, a website devoted to Olympic sport. “We have laid solid foundations,” Zhang said. “But the challenge has just begun, and it will not be complete until all those living with impairment enjoy access to better lives through sport.”

The candidates running against Zhang are Andrew Parsons, the former SG of Brazil’s Paralympic Committee, John Petersson, a Danish gold-medal swimmer in five Paralympic games and Patrick Jarvis, a Canadian Paralympic track star and former President of the Canadian Paralympic Committee. The election will take place on 8 September at the IPC General Assembly in Abu Dhabi.

RI collects survey data on disability and climate
As part of a joint initiative, researchers from Rehabilitation International and Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre are conducting a study on disability and climate resilience. Led by Dr. Maria Kett at Leonard Cheshire Disability, the overall purpose of the project is to increase understanding of the links between disability and climate resilience and to support delivery of policy and program work that builds the abilities of PwDs to handle climate shocks and stresses. So far, Kett, aided by RI Global’s EC Member Mathieu Simard, have sent out a survey of questions around the relationship between disability and an individual’s vulnerability/resilience to climate change. The survey also evaluates the interventions available to PwDs who have already undergone significant disruptions to their lives due to climate change. The survey should take no more than 10-15 minutes to complete.

Meanwhile, the UNGA has designated 13 October as International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) with the theme of “Home Safe Home”. Last year, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon launched “The Sendai Seven Campaign” to promote each of the seven targets over seven years. This year’s target is prevention, protection and reducing the number of all people affected by disasters –  particularly those at greater risk, including women and children, people living with disabilities and older persons. Promote your efforts on unisdr.org

The UN General Assembly will streamline and evaluate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) during this year’s General Assembly. 
RI GLOBAL: Upcoming UN Events
18th session of the CRPD Committee
All States parties are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the body of independent experts which monitors implementation of the Convention by the States Parties, on how the rights are being implemented. The Committee will meet in Geneva to examine each report and will make such suggestions and general recommendations on the report
14 to 31 August, Geneva, Switzerland 

23rd Conference of Asian Federation on Intellectual Disabilities (AFID) 
Organized to pursue the well-bring of people with disabilities in Asia by exchanging information and strengthening networks base of the Asian people with intellectual disabilities. During a time of larger nation-wide and global change through ACID, the 23rd AFID Conference aspires to grow and adapt, remaining always motivated, responsive and open to innovative ideas
18-24 November, Dhaka Bangladesh 

3rd International Conference of the World Federation of the Deaf: Convened to 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.
8-10 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 women of Shanta Memorial Rehabilitation Centre (SMRC) protesting domestic violence against women with disabilities in India. 
Shanta Memorial Rehabilitation Centre
Shanta Memorial Rehabilitation Centre (SMRC) recently completed the Building Capacity of Women with Disabilities in India: Promoting the Right to Health and advancing Zero Tolerance for Violence, a two-year project that helped teach women with disabilities across India their rights under the UN CRPD. Through the project, SMRC, a leading voluntary disability organisation also established Gender Disability Resource Centres in four states –  Gujarat, Karnataka, Odisha and Telangana – and reached nearly 1,500 women with disabilities and survivors of domestic violence, providing them with defense training and access to disability entitlements from State and National Governments.

While an unbelievably large and diverse project, it’s all in a day’s work for SMRC. With 30 years of practice, SMRC knows its community: disabled women in Indian society are severely marginalized, denied their rights and subjected to widespread discrimination. This deeply entrenched disempowerment has a serious fallout: violence, both physical and emotional, becomes an inherent part of their life. SMRC takes these women at their most vulnerable and helps them rebuild. But it also aims to prevent the vicious cycle. The most important outcome of the Building Capacityproject was the development of a database on types of violence perpetrated against women with disabilities. Those cases now belong to a Gender Watch virtual platform accessible by other organisations across India with the same aim: repairing and restoring.


Igniting a global network on Disability Inclusion and Accessible Urban Development (DIAUD)
On 12 July, a series of virtual meetings through the Global Network on Disability Inclusion and Accessible Urban Development (DIAUD) kicked off to enhance the participation of persons with disabilities (PwD) in urban development processes around the world. DIAUD is particularly seeking input for the 9th World Urban Forum (WUF9) to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in February 2018.

The DIAUD network emerged out of the 2016 UN Habitat IIIconference and has so far led to greater inclusion of PwDs in the conference’s outcome document:  the New Urban Agenda (NUA). “The DIAUD is a network that came together to ensure that member states… were clear about the ways that they could further disability responsive urban development,” said Dr. Victor Pineda, President, the Global Alliance On Accessible Technologies And Environments (GAATES) and co-chair of the DIAUD Network. For more information, reach out to the DIAUD.

China raising public awareness on disability; increasing support
Ahead of the country’s first disability prevention day on 25 August, Chinese authorities have issued an official circular to popularize disability knowledge and enable the public to better identify the risks of disabilities.

Through the flyer, the China Disabled Person’s Federation (CDPF), the official arm of the disabled movement in China, asked disabled federations at various levels to formulate their own plans and make efforts to educate the public with disability prevention knowledge. Furthermore, on the education front, government of China accepted applications from 5,600 examinees with disabilities who used support in taking the gaokao, China’s college entrance exam, in 2017. That assistance included access to Braille or large-font exam papers for students with vision disabilities, and exempting students with hearing disabilities from foreign language listening tests or giving them a longer completion time. Over 800 reading rooms featuring Braille books and audio materials were also established at public libraries in cities across the nation.

Coming face-to-face with disability could end supernatural myth-making in Africa
Many people in rural African communities still believe that disability is caused by supernatural forces, curses and as ‘punishment’ for wrongdoings, leaving persons with disabilities (PwDs) vulnerable to neglect and abuse, according to recent research from the University of East Anglia. But the more that communities come into contact with disability, the more awareness and understanding grows. Through the project, Preparation of Communities: Using personal narratives to affect attitudes to disability in Kilifi, Kenya,  “we found that disability is often explained by things like extra marital affairs invoking a curse, witchcraft, supernatural forces such as demons or ghosts affecting the child, and the will of God,” said Dr. Karen Bunning, the lead researcher from UEA’s School of Health Sciences. There was a silver lining to the findings: underpinning all of the supernatural explanations was a desire to make sense of disability and to improve the given situation. “Real life encounters with people who have disabilities can be a really positive step,” Bunning said.

Winners of the 2016 Global IT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities, a capacity-building project that helps young people to overcome their limitations with communications technologies (ICT). The 2017 challenge takes place in Hanoi, Vietnam, 18-22 September.


Congress of the on Council of Europe 
The Congress of the Council of Europe (NGOs and International organizations) will hold its 33rd session in Strasbourg with a global theme of “Decentralised policies for the successful integration of migrants”. Highlights will include debates on the reception of refugee children, young people and open government in the fight against corruption, regional and minority languages in Europe today and a better future for Europe’s rural areas. In addition, reports on local and regional democracy in Switzerland, Italy and Serbia will be examined and debated. All RI Global members are invited to attend.Hemicycle of the Palais de l’Europe, Strasbourg, 18-20 October, seewebsite for registration details.
Global ICT challenge for youth with disabilities (GITC)
The Global ICT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities (GITC) is a capacity-building project that helps youth with disabilities to overcome their limitations by providing them with access to information and communications technologies (ICT). The Challenge, sponsored by the Ministry of Health and Welfare of the Republic of Korea, Rehabilitation International Korea (RI KOREA) and LG Electronics, teaches and tests youth with disabilities on various technological competencies over a week, at the same time setting ICT agendas for participant countries regarding Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). At the event in China last year RI President Zhang Haidi participated and this year, China will send another delegation to the event that hosts 265 people from 16 nations. Global IT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities 2017, Hanoi, Vietnam, 18-22 September, for more information, see website.
State of Sao Paulo Recognizing Best Foreign Company in Inclusion Award
The State Secretariat for the Rights of the Person with Disability (SEDPcD) of the São Paulo State Government is adding to its “Best Companies Award for Employees with Disability 2017”, a new category: Foreign Companies. The ceremony of the winners’ companies will take place in the first fortnight of December 2017, in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. Created by this State Secretariat in 2014, this award grants praise and public recognition to public and private sectors companies that have adopted and implemented a policy of incorporating Persons with Disabilities (PwD) among its employees. For further information on the award, please see the website. Application materials must be completed by 31 August.

Annual Pacific Rim International Conference
Considered one of the most ‘diverse gatherings’ in the world, the Pacific Rim International Conference, encourages and respects voices from “diverse” perspective across numerous areas, including: voices from persons representing all disability areas; stories of persons providing powerful lessons; and action plans to meet human and social needs in a globalized world. The 33nd Annual Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity will be held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Waikiki Beach Resort & the Modern Honolulum 9-11 October. The Call for Proposals is now open.

Promoting blind awareness on World Sight Day
Project BlindWalk is an experience for sighted persons to experience what it means to be blind. Led by blind persons themselves in a public space, participants get a first-hand experience of blindness, in the hopes that sighted persons to better understand blindness and blind persons. Project BlindWalk also seeks pledges for the sighted to pledge to donate their eyes and become a Vision Ambassador. BlindWalk takes place on World Sight Day, 12 October. See thewebsite.

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