Malawi President hosts African Leaders Forum on Disability

President BandaMalawi President, Her Excellency Joyce Banda, and Special Olympics hosted the gathering for government leaders and international aid and development organizations on February 10 -11, 2014 in Lilongwe, Malawi.

The African Leaders Forum on Disability brought together Zimbabwean leader President Robert Mugabe, senior government officials from eleven African countries and chief executives or senior representatives from organizations such as the African Development Bank, the African Union, Catholic Relief Services, the Federation of Disability Organizations in Malawi, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Lions Clubs International, UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNICEF, and the World Bank, sports celebrities and private sector representatives for total representation of 25 African nations. Shikuku Obosi, Inclusion International’s Regional Coordinator for Africa represented Inclusion Africa at the event while Mirriam Namanja represented Parents Organization of Disabled Children in Malawi, PODCAM, the local member organization of Inclusion International.

The impressive sessions identified some of the key challenges facing people with intellectual disabilities and provided a good opportunity for all in attendance to understand what intellectual disability is. During the Forum, President Joyce Banda announced the African Leadership Alliance on Intellectual Disabilities to engage African governments, disability, development and health organizations and other stakeholders to secure human rights and social services for people with intellectual disabilities.

There was broad agreement at the Forum on four priorities for advocacy and action:

  • collecting sound data on people with intellectual disabilities and their lives;
  • establishing specific, measurable and attainable goals concerning health, education, and inclusion;
  • designing resource allocation models and targets to direct equitable shares of resources to those with intellectual disabilities;
  • and securing broad multi-sectorial participation in these aims, post 2015, through the African Leadership Alliance on Intellectual Disabilities.