The Post-2015 Development Agenda and the CRPD in Africa:
Deepening dialogue between African stakeholders and global and regional DPOs to strengthen advocacy for inclusive development.
Organized by IDA, IDDC and UNPRPD, the conference was a large success, with over 100 persons with disabilities from 14 African countries taking part in quality discussions around national and regional issues that will influence the post-2015 development agenda of the United Nations (UN).
Participants described their personal experiences and concerns openly, as well as demonstrated their knowledge both of the situation of persons with different disabilities across Africa and of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and other human rights instruments of the UN.
The outcome of these discussions, Nairobi Declaration, is an impressive paper developed by a team of 10 persons with disabilities, family members, and professionals.
Fatma Wangare, representing Inclusion Africa, was a member of this development team. Fatma successfully influenced the draft text of the Declaration to include the following pieces:
- (f) to recognize “the importance of families in the provision of support and assistance for their family members with disabilities, especially those with high support needs.
- (21) to ensure that legal frameworks and policies are in place to prevent discrimination, including denial of legal capacity, and support access to justice as well as political participation of all persons with disabilities at all decision – making levels.
Inclusion Africa’s Role
The draft Declaration was discussed at length prior to the conference’s closing ceremony, with the discussion moderated by Fauzia Haji, member of Inclusion Africa’s Board of Directors and the Council of Inclusion International. Fauzia effectively guided discussions and prompted compromise when parts of the draft text were found controversial and not initially accepted by some participants.
As a result of her balanced approach to guiding participants through the essential elements of the paper, Fauzia was asked to officially present the text when Mr. Samuel Kazungu Kambi, Minister of Labour, Social Security and Services, Kenya, arrived to speak at the closing ceremony.
Inclusion Africa maintained a major role in the closing ceremony. In addition to Fauzia Haji`s official text presentation, Fatma Wangare acted as master of ceremonies, introducing the official delegation of the Kenyan Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Services to Yannis Vardakastanis, Chair of IDA, as well as to the conference participants in attendance.
Working Group on Education and Health
A working group on education and health was held over the course of the conference, which highlighted the progressive approach of 12 participants representing Botswana, Kenya, Zanzibar, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. Most participants in the working group were persons with a physical disability, and several represented self-advocates who are blind. Also present in the working group were four mothers of children with disabilities from different African countries that are advocating strongly for inclusive education. The mothers spoke of their major concern: in many parts of Africa children with disabilities, in particular intellectual disabilities, either do not receive education of any kind or do not receive quality education, in terms of meeting the disability-related needs of students as well as the infrastructure of schools. One mother reported that sometimes there is only one teacher for 100 children, with no desks, no books and no teaching materials in the classroom. Other participants in other African countries also supported this as common. Later in a plenary session of the conference, Rosangela Berman-Bieler, Chief, Disability Section, UNICEF, confirmed that about 90% of children with disabilities in developing countries do not receive any kind of school education.
With respect to healthcare, the situation is similar. In particular, in rural Africa, health services for persons with disabilities are not available and the distances to reach a hospital are extreme.
The discussions from each working group were recorded, summarized, and presented by rapporteurs in the plenary sessions.
Africa’s Increased Influence in the United Nations
Throughout the conference, many participants expressed that Africa should effectively make use of its power to influence the United Nations and the Post 2015 Agenda; there are currently 53 African countries that enjoy voting rights within the UN and about 35 of these countries have ratified the CRPD. It was wholly agreed by conference participants that it is due time to persuade African governments that the Post 2015 Goals negotiated by the UN and its agencies in the coming year must include disability issues, particularly in the fields of poverty, education, health, and social security.
The Importance of Article 32 CRPD (International Cooperation) for Africa
The conference demonstrated that Africa is moving forward. Participants spoke of their expectations for more public awareness with regard to disability issues, and criticized industrialized countries for either ignoring or neglecting the problems of persons with disabilities living in Africa. Some participants referred to Art. 32 CRPD (International Cooperation), stating that many developing countries ratified the CRPD without reservation as the “rich” countries had pledged to support the poorer part of the world to implement the CRPD. However, to date, only a few of the prosperous CRPD State Parties have upheld their promise to provide developing countries with technical and economic assistance as stated in Article 32.
London, March 27, 2014.