Message from the Chair
Dear Members and Colleagues,
At the end of June I returned from attending the Twelfth Council of States Parties (COSP12) for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) at UN Headquarters in New York. What a privilege and still so awe-inspiring to be in the halls and meeting rooms where human rights are debated. The Australian delegation to COSP12 consisted of over 20 people, of whom the majority were representatives of civil society organisations. My attendance was to represent Rights & Inclusion Australia (www.riaustralia.org), a human rights organisation which campaigns for implementation of the CRPD particularly in the area of smart cities and accessible housing across Australia and the Asia Pacific. I was supported by the Australian Government through its program to enable people with disabilities to attend international conferences.
For me, in a jam-packed four days of meetings, there were three very significant milestones. The first was a high level meeting at the offices of UN Women. Convened by Ms Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes, UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Disability and Accessiblity, it launched a disabled women’s manifesto to UNWomen to recognise women with disabilities in political and public leadership in the coming deliberations for the 25th meeting of the Beign Platform for Action (Beijing +25). I will include more details in coming e-bulletins.
The second was a call to action by the COSP12 women delegates with disabilities, convened by Bonnie Brayton from DAWN Canada, and held in a (quietish) corridor, to ensure that we work together internationally to promote equal rights for women and girls with disabilities in mainstream, in women’s rights areas and in disability rights areas. The group will be coordinated from Pakistan.
The third, and also game-changing initiative was the official launch of the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy. It is a high level policy across all UN agencies. It acknowledges that the UN must lead by example to employ people with disabilities, ensure that procurement maximizes accessibility, as well as programming for inclusion. Implementation and monitoring strategies will be rolled out across all agencies and overseen by people with disabilities.
All initiatives carry forward the agenda to ensure that women and girls with disabilities will be represented in numbers which reflect our proportion of the population and recognise our merit to contribute.