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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Enable Daily Bulletin from the Conference, 13 September: Discussions on children and women with disabilities

Fifth session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 12-14 September 2012, UN Headquarters, New York

13 September: Discussions on children and women with disabilities


Morning session: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Mr. Raymond O. Wolfe (Jamaica) announced the continuation of the General Debate. Representatives from India, Spain, and Cyprus spoke about how the CRPD will continue to be used to strengthen national policies, while representatives from Syria, Panama, and Korea highlighted their States’ commitments in protecting the rights of persons with disabilities against discrimination. The representative from the European Union described the planned establishment of a European framework for accessible goods and services.

Round Table 2: Children with Disabilities

Mr. Wolfe opened Round Table 2. The panelists were: Ms. Ms. Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, Ministry of Women, Children and People with Disabilities of South Africa; Mr. Nick Alipui, Director of UNICEF Programmes; Ms. Ximena Rivas, National Service for Disability of Chile; Ms. Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children and Ms. Jenny Nilsson, World Federation of the Deaf - Youth Section.

Ms. Bogopane-Zulu, spoke about the need to strengthen capacity and mechanisms on universal access and design measures and standards. She also called for improved enforcement mechanisms, including putting in place responsive appeal mechanisms for parents. She stated that it is essential to provide support for parents’ and youth organizations, empowering children and youth with disabilities to participate in decision-making. Although progress has been made over the past ten years, education still needed to be made more inclusive. The lack of early interventions, inaccessible transportation, and the shortage of access to justice stand as barriers to inclusiveness for children with disabilities.

Mr. Alipui, spoke about four main themes in his presentation: the importance of the CRDP and especially its effective implementation, the issues at stake, what needs to be done, and the partnership requirements necessary to strengthen programs for children with disabilities. Mr. Alipui noted that UNICEF is actively engaged in utilizing the CRPD to empower children and is using the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey to gather statistical data on the situation of children with disabilities and their families. The 2013 edition of UNICEF’s flagship publication The State of the World’s Children will be devoted to the theme Children and Youth with Disabilities.

Ms. Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children spoke about the pattern of violence against children with disabilities. Children with disabilities do not have the same access to justice as does the general population and violence against children with disabilities is frequently made invisible. The perpetrators of such violence act with impunity, and furthermore, due to stigma and prejudice, violence against children with disabilities is often portrayed as less serious than violence against other groups. Girls with disabilities are particularly vulnerable, suffering physical violence as children and sexual violence, later in life. Despite this bleak picture, there is some cause for optimism, thanks in part to the CRPD and its rapid ratification by many countries. She noted that in order to adequately address violence against children with disabilities the following must be done: make adequate investments in early childhood education, promote public awareness for professionals working with and for children with disabilities, make necessary legal and policy reform, ensure adequate participation of disabled youth and children in decision-making processes, expedite the ratification process of the Optional Protocol on a Communications Procedure of the Convention on the Rights of the Child 

Ms. Rivas noted that states have made progress in securing the rights of children with disabilities, but much more work needs to be done, especially in the field of early childhood learning.  Ms. Rivas also stressed the need for more concrete public policies focusing on children with disabilities.

Ms. Jenny Nilsson, World Federation of the Deaf Youth Section (WFDYS) in her presentation noted that only a small portion of the audience was under the age of thirty; this is problematic, as youth with disabilities should be stakeholders in the decision making process. This pattern extends to the NGO sector as well; the small number of such organizations shows the lack of support for the youth with disabilities to be involved in the disability movement.

Raviat Singh, a 14-year-old boy with a disability also addressed the round-table discussion, sharing his story of attending an inclusive school in India, where teachers had been there to help him “without being overprotective”.  He had made friends, as he was determined not to let his disability slow down his life, he recalled, stressing:  “Fears and inhibitions are in the mind.” He also highlighted the importance of the CRPD in protecting his rights.

Representatives from  Panama, Egypt, Argentina, Kenya, Senegal, Jamaica Guatemala, Sweden, Niger, Nigeria, Peru, Sudan and the Republic of  Korea all posed questions or delivered statements during the interactive exchange. Responding to the questions, Ms. Nilsson reaffirmed that deaf children who use sign language are bilingual and have a right to an education in their native language. Many of the speakers emphasized the importance of providing adequate support to parents of children with disabilities, as well as involving children in decision-making processes that affect their lives.  Mr. Richard Rieser, a representative from UK Disabled Peoples Council, emphasized that all of the articles of the Convention are relevant for children, and not only article 7.

Mr. Wolfe concluded the session by turning the floor over to the representative from Israel who exercised the right to reply to a statement made earlier by Syria.

Afternoon session: 3 to 6 p.m.

Round Table 2: Informal Session: Women with disabilities

Round Table 2, chaired by Adam Kosa (Hungary) and Maryanne Diamond (International Disability Association) had five panelists. They were Ms. Yassine Fall (UN Women), Ms. Rachael Kachaje (Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled), Ms. Myra Kovary (Network of Women with Disabilities), Ms. Erzsebet Foldesi (National Federation of Disabled Persons’ Association of Hungary), and Mr. Carlos Rios (Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities).

Mr. Kosa remarked that women with disabilities lack access to essential services that are critical to the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Mr. Kosa provided a number of examples of how women with disabilities face double discrimination.  The Convention sets out to promote gender equality and empowerment of women with disabilities. Mr. Kosa highlighted Hungary’s new law that protects the rights of all persons without discrimination.

Ms. Yassine Fall stated that it is a known matter that women and girls face discrimination on the basis of disability. This is exacerbated by conflict, age, ethnicity, economic status and multiple disabilities.  She highlighted several projects implemented by UN Women promoting the rights of women with disabilities.  Ms. Fall claimed that more needed to be done and women and girls needed to be a part of this conversation. She also called for increased cooperation between the different entities, suggesting that Commission on the Status of Women could invite members of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to attend its sessions.

Ms. Rachel Kachaje explained that the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities together provide a comprehensive approach to the rights of women with disabilities. In her presentation, Ms. Kachaje highlighted the text from three CEDAW articles: that state parties should take measures to empower full participation of women and access to education, labour and the political process; that violence that is gender-based is a form of discrimination; and that casual and traditional practices discriminate against women.  Ms. Kachaje placed a particular emphasis on women’s empowerment.

Ms. Erzsebet Foldesi noted that CEDAW is already three decades old and Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC) is two decades old, yet neither has led to significant advances in the promotion and protection of girls with disabilities. There are other human rights mechanisms that are also highly relevant for women with disabilities, such as the Universal Peer Review, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Committee Against Torture. Citing examples from Hungary, Ms Foldesi stressed the need for women with disabilities and their organizations to engage these other instruments when advocating for their rights.

Mr. Carlos Rios highlighted how violence against women and children usually has multiple layers and is difficult to pinpoint or categorize. Mr. Rios highlighted the importance of article 19 of the CRPD on living independently and being included in the community and that many countries have not made significant progress in implementing this article, especially for women and girls. Finally, Mr. Rios urged states to put in place mechanisms that investigate and prosecute violence against women and provide adequate training for hospital and caretaking personnel in hospitals and institutions.  

Ms. Myra Kovary discussed violence against disabled women. Violence is in itself a major cause of disabilities, causing mobility disabilities, blindness, deafness and other forms of disabilities. Violence happens more often to women and it is more likely to happen to persons with disabilities than to persons without disabilities. She highlighted how some States engage in violence against women with disabilities in cases of forced institutionalization or forced psychiatric treatment. Although the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is an extremely important instrument, she stressed the importance of the advocacy role of disabled women themselves in pushing for its implementation and that society needed to support them and their organizations. She further stressed the role of women with disabilities in shaping legislation, arguing that a country has most to learn from those who have suffered the most.

The chair opened the floor to questions.  Representatives from Brazil, Kenya, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Jordan, Israel, Nigeria, Sudan, and civil society posed comments and questions pertaining to the empowerment of young women with disabilities, reproductive rights, proportional representation of women with disabilities in UN committees and programs, the mainstreaming of women-with-disability issues in other women’s programs, and including the perspective of gender in all programs.

Official statements will be available on PaperSmart and the archive of the webcast will be available on the Enable website, shortly. The complete unedited (CART) transcript of the day will also be posted.

TOMORROW’S SCHEDULE: Friday, 14 September (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.)

Interactive Dialogue: Implementation of the Convention by the UN system

Chair: Bureau (Sweden)


United Nations entities:
-        Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA)
-        Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
-        UN Statistics Division
-        United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
-        The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN Habitat)

Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
UN Special Rapporteur on Disability of Commission for Social Development

Summary of panel discussions:
-        Roundtable One
-        Roundtable Two
-        Informal Session  

Other matters
Closing of the meeting


o       Make the First Five Count
o       Global leadership of women with disabilities
o       Implementing Article 30.5 – The Right to Sport for All Persons with Disabilities
o       Empowering students with disabilities (Article 24) and exhibition of authentic culture of persons with disabilities as tool of promotion CRPD (Article 8)
o       Mental Health Practices and the Rights of People with Psychosocial Disabilities


Live webcast:


Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (SCRPD), Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD), United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), 2 UN Plaza, DC2-1306, New York, NY 10017, USA.
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