Great news – Guyana has just become the 150th country to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Well done to Young Voices in Guyana who have been campaigning to make sure this happens!
Six of our Young Voices campaigners are in New York this week to attend the 7th Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Their attendance is being sponsored by UNICEF. The Young Voices campaigners attending are Ashura Michael from Kenya, Mohammed Yaaseen Edoo from Mauritius, Kartik Sawhney from India, Mark Operiano from the Philippines, Tongai Dana from Zimbabwe and Ivory Duncan from Guyana. Ashura will be speaking at a panel session on young people with disabilities alongside Leonard Cheshire Disability chief executive Clare Pelham.
Young Voices campaigners Tongai from Zimbabwe (pictured) and Markson from Zambia gave presentations about Young Voices and the CRPD at disability inclusion training workshops hosted by Plan Zimbabwe and Plan Zambia, funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD).
Sue Coe, a disability and development expert who facilitated the workshops said: “The sessions led by Tongai and Markson added an extra, valuable dimension. Their clear focus and knowledge on CRPD definitely helped the participants.”
Young Voices campaigners from Sri Lanka met with the Minister of Youth Affairs and Skills Department in June 2013. The main aim of the meeting was to get the Minister’s support for the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), and turning the pending Disability Rights Bill into law as soon as possible.
The Sri Lankan government signed the UNCRPD in March 2007, but it has not yet been ratified by parliament. The Disability Rights Bill has been pending for the last 7 years. A commitment to these two laws would make a huge difference for disabled people in Sri Lanka.
The Minister responded very positively to their requests. During the meeting he telephoned the Minister of Social Services directly and asked him to take the steps required to ratify the UNCRPD. They agreed to speak again prior to the next cabinet meeting about what needed to be done to take this forward. The Minister also confirmed that he would be speaking to the President of Sri Lanka to get his support for ratifying the UNCRPD as soon as possible.
The Minister also agreed to nominate and sponsor Ishan Jalill, President of Young Voices Sri Lanka, to participate in the Malala Day events in July at the UN Headquarters in New York as one of the government representatives.
The Minister said that the government of Sri Lanka has identified the Young Voices movement as a leading, vibrant and effective initiative. They are very keen to support Young Voices and ensure the rights of people with disabilities in Sri Lanka are respected.
The Young Voices group in Indonesia has successfully translated the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into Bahasa Indonesia. The translation has been essential in raising awareness amongst the Young Voices members themselves and also with the people they are trying to influence. It helps them to demonstrate that the rights of people with disabilities are fundamentally supported by international law and that it is essential for the Indonesian government and duty bearers to recognise and implement it effectively.
The foreword to the translation was provided by Dr Samsudi from the Directorate for Persons with Disabilities. Dr Samsudi states the need to actively recognise the rights of people with disabilities and to increase knowledge and awareness of disability issues.
Young Voices Indonesia organised a workshop in Jakarta on the 26th January on ‘Participation of young people with disabilities and the role of government in policies & UNCRPD implementation in Indonesia.’ The workshop was very successful and was attended by representatives of the Indonesian Ministry of Social Affairs; the Ministry of Education; the EU Delegation; the Association of Indonesia Enterpreneur (APINDO); the students association of University of Indonesia, Atmajaya University and State University of Jakarta; disabled people’s organisations, other local and international organisations and the media.
The Young Voices project translated 500 copies of the UNCRPD into the local Shona and Ndebele languages and adopted them as tools to advocate for the ratification of the Convention in Zimbabwe. Using media in a different form, some group members are being trained in using the internet as an advocacy tool.
Young Voices campaigners from the Philippines organised a regional consultation on the UNCRPD from 17–19 April 2012 which was then held by the Leonard Cheshire Disability Philippines Foundation. Young Voices and other youth with disabilities carried out an in-depth parallel assessment of UNCRPD implementation on the youth-related themes: health, education, accessibility, work and employment and youth participation.
When the King of Swaziland ratified the UNCRPD on 24 September it was a proud day for Swaziland Young Voices. They had trained a group of 30 MPs in the Convention last August, and have been told that this and their ongoing campaign led to the ratification. Since the training, MPs spoke openly for the first time about disability discrimination in parliament and the national media. Now Young Voices will work with the government to implement the Convention.