By September 20, 2013 Read More →

Disabilities in the Post 2015 Development Agenda – Wednesday, 28 August 2013

One billion people. This is the approximate number of disabled persons around the world. They make up 15% of the total global population and represent the largest minority on Earth. Powerful facts when put into perspective. I was lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to sit in on a panel discussion on “Disabilities in the Post 2015 Millennium Development Goals Agenda” organised by the World Evangelical Alliance. The World Evangelical Alliance is a global organisation that serves and represents more than 600 million evangelicals. The panel comprised of Mrs Venus Ilagan, Secretary General of Rehabilitation International (who actually experienced a disability herself), H.E. Mr Wilfried Emvula, Ambassador to the Permanent Mission of Namibia to the UN, Professor Heather Cucolo, Adjunct Professor of International Mental Disabilities Law at New York Law School, and Mr Richard Morgan, Senior Advisor on the Post 2015 Development Agenda to UNICEF . The panellists focused on various different issues surrounding the topic, covering areas such as discrimination, improvement, possible ideas to improve the lives of people with disabilities and practically setting realistic goals beyond 2015.

Ultimately, I found that a general umbrella theme emerged from the discussions of that evening and they were centred on these two words: “Human Rights”. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in its very first article that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”, a sentence which I find sums up quite well the point that the panellists were trying to make. Why do we fight for the rights of so many, so passionately? Why do we do our best to try and make a difference for people who we may perceive as being disadvantaged (poverty stricken, etc) or disabled? Why do we also connect to people easily when we find a virtue that we like about them, or the fact that they have an appealing personality? I have come to realise that everything we do, and the intensity with which we do it, reflects a great deal of what we want for ourselves. I defend the rights of others because I want my rights to be safe. I speak out for others because I want to be heard. I respect the beauty in others because I have that in me too, and I would like people to see it. So, the session today was really not just about understanding more about the topic of disability, but it ended up becoming an integral lesson on how we as human beings exercise our human rights; subtly and softly. It is these intricacies of human nature that show how freedom and equality really are the intrinsic nature of the soul.

2013-08-28 13.40.03
From left to right: Deborah Fikes (WEA Representative to the UN), Mrs Venus Ilagan (Secretary General, Rehabilitation International), H.E. Mr Wilfried Emvula (Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Namibia to the United Nations), Professor Heather Cucolo (Adjunct Professor, International Mental Disabilities Law, New York Law School), Mr Richard Morgan (Senior Advisor, Post 2015 Development Agenda, UNICEF)

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