This article was put together by Young Voices campaigners during the 2013 Young Voices Global meeting in Kenya.
Young Voices campaigners continue to make striking impact while campaigning for the promotion, protection and respect of the rights of persons with disabilities and ensuring the creation of a barrier free world. At the Global Meeting held in Kenya, Nairobi from the 22nd – 25th October 2013 – Young Voices were able to share their successes, challenges, and ideas to boost and sustain their course of action. Here are some of their main successes of positive changes and plans for the future.
As a direct result of Young Voices campaign, advocacy, and lobbying activities in various nations such as Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Uganda, and the Philippines, Young Voices campaigners have experienced positive changes in their individual lives and as a group. In Mauritius many secured employment, acquired professional and vocational skills, and those disabled from birth received free life medical certificates. In Zimbabwe the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was ratified, Inclusive Education and persons with disabilities have become a priority. In Uganda, Young Voices members received vocational training through networking and dialogue with various stakeholders, and many have been opening their own businesses.
Young Voices meetings in many nations have created a family bond between the members which has resulted in them sharing successes, challenges, ideas, and experiences. One of the Young Voices campaigners had the following to say: “When we started our Young Voices activities most of us did not have confidence in ourselves, nor were we able to express ourselves. We were like strangers to each other, but now all that is water under the bridge. I can even talk to the President.” This has also resulted in Young Voices having confidence, faith in themselves and being motivated to continue to stand and speak out where persons with disabilities matter.
Various factors and campaign activities contributed to the attainment of the aforementioned achievements. These included public engagements where Young Voices use artistic means such as songs, dramas, dances and motivational speeches to communicate their course. In some countries Young Voices conduct press conferences and sometimes dialogue with government institutions and officials. Other activities include regular meetings, awareness campaigns, and social media to mention but a few.
Much has been done but still more remains hence Young Voices from various nations have put forward several means, ideas, and approaches to sustain their campaigning activities. This includes effective and efficient use of media communication, especially basic ones such as social media networks, mobile phones, and networking and partnering with other disability organizations, NGOs and Youth Groups.
Young Voices campaigners have pledged to continue conducting their regular meetings and facilitating partnerships with the government. Above all they will continue making a clarion call to the whole world to chip in in this humane cause, so that together we can make the world a better place for all, with or without a disability.
Editors: Tongayi Dana, Lidwina Isidore, Thuso Sepepe, Nicole Mulavu, and Limakatso Patricia