NEW YORK (September 19, 2012) — On September 14-15, UNICEF hosted the first Forum of the Global Partnership on Children with Disabilities. Two hundred and forty participants representing more than 100 organizations from across the world took part to discuss how the rights and needs of children with disabilities should be prioritized in development efforts.
The Forum included a high-level panel discussion on how to realize equity and inclusion for children with disabilities in the post-2015 development agenda, as the target date for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is fast approaching.
During the Forum partners identified concrete strategies to include disability on global agendas, in areas such as education, nutrition, and humanitarian action. Further collaboration was agreed upon between the partners in seven countries (Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Haiti, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Turkey) and more broadly in the region covering Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Youth activists also made their voices heard. Abia Akram, the Coordinator of the Global Network of Emerging Young Women Leaders with Disabilities, spoke at the opening of the Forum saying, “Girls and women with disabilities should be empowered to participate in decision making processes that impact their lives. Their voices must be heard so they can contribute to their community in the spirit of ‘nothing about us without us.’”
Ariel Ary Chinchilla, Special Olympics Athlete and International Global Messenger, also spoke about the challenges children with intellectual disabilities face in their daily lives in schools and in their communities. “Twenty years ago when I was born, doctors told my parents that my life was not worth saving. These people never thought I would finish school, as I did, graduating from a regular trilingual school. They never imagined I would be a full time staff member in a company like IBM.”
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake hosted a reception to acknowledge the contributions made by partners and donors, and to make a call for action on the inclusion of children with disabilities in development cooperation. “Every one of us can and must mainstream the needs of children living with disabilities into our policies, planning and actions, while advocating with others as well,” said Mr. Lake.
“Our partnership sends a clear message to children with disabilities and their families: You will not be forgotten, you will not be overlooked, you count. Over the next year, let’s match our efforts to the strength of children everywhere, and measure our results against their dreams. Children do not accept unnecessary limits, and neither should we.”
For more information, visit UNICEF’s newly launched website on children with disabilities www.unicef.org/disabilities.
The video recording of the Forum’s sessions is available online at http://www.livestream.com/unicef.
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