The World We Want

By Mark Mathew Operiano, Young Voices campaigner, Philippines

I recently attended “WorldWeWant.de and Friends” – a workshop with 20 other youth delegates in Bonn, Germany. WorldWeWant.de is part of the current consultation on the new development agenda that will replace the Millennium Development Goals in 2015.

The workshop was an opportunity to meet young people from all over the world with diverse views on the post-2015 agenda, and discuss our ideas and hopes for the future. We also got to attend “Global Partnership and the Post-2015 Agenda for Sustainable Development” in Bonn, and voice our opinions to high-level policymakers.

Following the workshop, we came up with a manifesto that will be presented to international leaders on the formulation of the new development agenda. Key points from the manifesto included:

1. Ensure equal opportunities in areas such as education, healthcare, employment and social integration are available for all, including marginalised and vulnerable communities. These groups should be involved in decision and policy-making processes including those concerned with the post-2015 development agenda.
2. Raise awareness among vulnerable groups and disadvantaged communities of their rights to ensure their full participation.
3. Remove barriers that prevent vulnerable and disadvantaged groups from participating in social and civil life, including promoting technologies that are accessible t4. o all.
4. Reach out to the hardest to reach, listen to their stories, know their aspirations. Make sure they are empowered and have the chance to reach their full potential.

WorldWeWant.de was a great avenue for young people to come together voice our perspectives on the post-2015 agenda. I’m very glad I had the opportunity to attend.

Inspirational women #4: Dianne

This week we have been posting stories of inspirational female Young Voices campaigners to mark International Women’s Day. Here’s Dianne’s story:

Dianne standing in the street with her guitar, next to her crutchesMy name is Dianne. I am 21 years old and I come from the Philippines. My parents both died when I was young. At the age of 11 I was diagnosed with bone cancer. My left leg had to be amputated and I spent two years in hospital.

Accepting my parents’ death and facing cancer at a very young age made my childhood life harder. I had to stop studying for a year because of emotional depression. There were times that I felt like giving up the fight for life. But with the help of a Belgian missionary sister, I was able to recover and cope with my disability. I changed my outlook on life, and began to believe that any form of disability should not stop you achieving what you want to achieve. I continued studying and valued education much more. I decided I wanted to strive hard and inspire people, especially, cancer patients and people with disabilities.

I now consider myself an advocate of people with disabilities and am deeply involved in many advocacy campaigns through Leonard Cheshire Young Voices. I am also passionate about music and I am a member of Musicability, a group of young and talented musicians who are all campaigners with Young Voices.

In September 2012, I was selected as the official young person with a disability delegate from the Philippines to attend and speak at the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities International Conference held at the UN Headquarters in New York City, USA. Last November I was again honored to represent the Philippines and Young Voices in the 2013 European Development Days held in Brussels, Belgium. There, I talked about the achievements and initiatives of the young people with disabilities and how we should be included in international development.

Since I got cancer, every day of my life has been really a miracle. I strongly believe that God has blessed me to live longer, survive the obstacles and trials in life and inspire many people. My life has been journey and I truly appreciate its meaning and value through the love and support of all the people around me and those who believe in my abilities.

Young Voices make themselves heard in Brussels

Young Voices campaigners at the European Development Days event - Young Voices campaigners and other delegates are seated behind a table, while one person speaks - some audience members are visible. The EU development days banner - eudevdays.eu - is behind the speakers. Young Voices campaigners spoke to a packed room of delegates at the European Development Days in Brussels on 26th November. The Young Voices, from the Philippines, Zambia and Kenya, were hosting a side event on ‘The Power of Young Voices – an innovative approach to inclusive civic engagement focusing on young people with disabilities’. The European Development Days is an annual event that brings together thousands of development stakeholders, practitioners and advocates in informal sessions to exchange best practice, network, and come up with creative solutions to key issues.

The Young Voices campaigners shared the challenges they have experienced as young people with disabilities, and the campaigns they have participated in to bring about change for disabled people in their countries. Delegates debated how development actors could engage better with young people.

Meeting delegates - including Young Voices campaigners - sitting round the tableTwo days later, the campaigners took part in a roundtable at the European Parliament, hosted by Richard Howitt MEP. Together with representatives from EU institutions and civil society they discussed how to harness the power of young voices to promote human rights and include disability in the post-2015 development framework.

View highlights, photos and quotes from the sessions on our Tumblr site.

MusikAbility – Young Voices performing live!

Eight Young Voices campaigners from their band 'Musikability' posing with their instruments

A shared passion for music has inspired eight Young Voices campaigners from the Philippines to form a music group, MusikAbility. Together they are hoping to change the world song at a time.

On 16th September they performed live in Parañaque City, as part of the celebrations for the 10th Cerebral Palsy Awareness and Protection Week. Their performance went down a storm. Musikability compose and record their own original songs that contain powerful messages about disability. Through their music they hope to make the public aware that disabled people have the same interests and talent as everyone else.

Making transport more accessible for disabled people in the Philippines

Young Voices members in the Philippines have been busy lobbying to make transport more accessible in Manila. They negotiated with the management of the Light Railway Transit to repair escalators and elevators that were not working in various train stations. They have said that they will prioritise the repairs to be finalised by summer 2013. The Metro Rail Transit has also allowed Young Voices to post tarpaulins in all 15 train stations to promote the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabilities and the Young Voices campaign.