Wednesday 14 June 2017

Youth leadership in the CRPD implementation

This amazing Canadian-led youth leadership side-event was facilitated by Hon. Minister Carla Qualtrough and featured Canadian youth leaders.

The minister opened  presenting the importance that Canada attributes to youth engagement, and presented the impressive bios and contributions that the representatives in the panel have brought to the table.

Devin Brodhagen, from Yukon, who spoke about working with youth and how working with youth in schools is the best way to start programs and capacity building.
He spoke about mental health and how staying at home is not an option, how important it is for him to not be afraid anymore. His roles include helping kids in camps, supporting vehicle adaptations and motivating other youth.

Molly Burke, a 23 years old from Toronto who has retinitis pigmentosa talked about how her disability meant loosing friends, facing bullying and living under stigma, stereotypes and prejudice at age 5. She talked about how public speaking has helped her overcome barriers, by motivating others. She mentions how blindness has prevented her from accessing regular jobs, and as such she has created a business on doing motivational and public speaking as a motivational speaker. She urges the public to empower youth with disabilities to build a generation that can do amazing things, change stereotypes to society and getting youth with disabilities to realize their own potential.
You can see Molly's videos  here.

Simone Cavanaugh is a Mcgill graduate in Law, a member of the Canada's Prime Minister Youth Council and has Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis since age 6. She was a wheelchair user from ages 7-14. She talked about privileges such as having amazing supportive parents and getting an university degree. She mentions how having an invisible disability but being in the disability community in the university context and the community at large can be challenging. She has worked with the juvenile arthitis society to help educating and sharing her experience.
Simone also works in Nicaragua with children with disabilities. When resources are scarce,  disabilities are not a priority when often they're "the least" necessary in the society. She mentioned how the priority in advocating from human rights can sound as coming from a place of privilege when children don't have access to basic needs such as schooling and medical services, a discussion that she calls the public views on.
She mentions how in Canada we are now working in creating an accessibility legislation but she called on the need to change society views of disabilities and a cultural shift on what is inclusion, what are disabilities and how an accessibility legislation will be good for all.
She eloquently mentioned how the youth council, which includes 26 youth from all parts of Canada, provinces and territories has a real power to question, object, and change government views. The youth council works with government and is perceived to have a real voice in changing policy and influencing change.

Jana Husseini, is a leader in several programs. She woks with organizations that focus on inclusive education and vocational training for person with disabilities. Important points she brought up is the equal access to voting, education, health care and employment. She perceives that being an advocate has positively impacted peoples' lives. Jana mentioned that the minimum data on disabled youth shows high rates of drop offs and low educational achievements. Social and economic development opportunities often exclude disabled youth.

Amarijit Mangat was born in Toronto but raised in Vancouver, he is deaf and spoke about youth leadership in deaf community. He spoke about the different types of sign languages used in Canada. Leadership is something highly valued in the deaf community. He speaks on the importance of education to remove the barriers of language for deaf communities. The LGBTQ+ community is also under-represented and lacking leadership. Very often, deaf people have language delays and are not exposed to sign language early on. He mentions that leadership should be nurtured since childhood and mentions others who are often not included in the community such as deaf-blind, children of deaf parents, siblings. Speaking on identity and building identities he mentions that as an individual who is deaf he does not identify as a person with disability.

In the question period it was mentioned that 16000 youth applied for the PM youth council! And though only 26 youth are now in the council they have a mandate of going to schools, leadership camps and educating other youth on leadership as well as listening and integrating their concerns.

Molly mentioned the importance  of portraying people with disabilities in the media and building confidence. She also mentions how disability needs to be an open conversation with others too, to teach kids it's okay to ask about disabilities (e.g. to ask about her guide dog).

Minister Qualtrough responded on the need to provide a consistent experience of accessibility across provinces.  She mentioned that leadership will be showed at federal level and there is governmental will to create discussions and support provincial laws that facilitate the enactment of accessibility laws across jurisdictions.
She also mentioned the amazing opportunity and associated challenges with being a person with disabilities in a policymaking role, and the need for people with disabilities to be better represented.

Senator Jim Munson highlighted how everybody can be a leader and how important it is to have employers and others listening and engaging in those discussion.

Hon. Qualtrough mentioned a group of 110 Canadian youth with disabilities who regularly convene since the first accessibility forum. Additionally, she has facilitated in her riding the creation of a youth council of 12 youth with disabilities with whom she consults.

A great portrait of things we can do when we listen to youth and meaningfully engage them in decisions. "Nothing about us without us" is valid for all age groups, eh?

Tuesday 13 June 2017

DPO Participation in SDG Implementation & Reporting: Experience from the ground

Amazing session opened by our very own Minister of Sports and Persons with Disabilities Hon. Carla Qualtrough.

She emphasized the Partnership and Engagement efforts put in place by Canada to implement the SDGs.

One important endeavour was the stakeholders consultations in the development of the new Accessibility Legislation. The minister outlined that the challenge now is to include the over 10000 contributions in the new legislations.
A few issues that the government is actively working on were: a) access to post-secondary learning for youth with disabilities, knowing that students with disabilities often face secondary challenges to access higher education. She mentioned the loan forgiveness plan for students with persistent disabilities as one of strategies to overcome this barrier; b) New national housing strategies are also being put in place; c)  as well as investments on social spheres, and prevention and rehabilitation.

The minister also highlighted some of the international development initiatives that Canada is supporting in Pakistain and Ukraine (e.g. programs on awareness on inclusion of persons with disabilities in democratic processes), and how the GLAD network is an important forum for exchanging ideas in efforts to implement the 2030 agenda.

Canada has endorsed the charter on inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian action  and is taking concrete actions

Ms. Penny Innes, Head of Disability Inclusion Team, Department for International Development (UK)
mentioned the importance of the Disability Rights Fund to implement the SDGs and the need to collect data as per Washington group guidelines.

Mr. Mika Kontiainen, Director Disability, Development Policy Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Australia) mentioned that all Australian aid investments over 3 illion dollar sto report annually on the degree to which they have consulted and engaged with DPOs in the dsign and implementation of the investment. Also report on the extent to which barriers to inclusion have been identified and addressed. Developments are evaluated with the Australian Monitoring evaluation framework (should we check and model?). 
Partnership with the IDA and other partners are contributing to achieving disability inclusion in the SDGs internationally.
He also mentioned how Stats bureau is working to refine and update the indicators and supporting framework for disability data collection, including endorsement and use of Washington group questions. 

Ms. Diana Samarasan, Founding Executive Director, Disability Rights Advocacy Fund and Disability Rights Fund mentioned how these funds include funding opportunities for DPOs for advocacy on the SDGs - the funds support projects doing direct advocacy to government and civil society actors to include persons with disabilities

Mr. Med Ssengooba, Program Officer for Africa, Disability Rights Fund

Ms. Orsolya Bartha, Senior Adviser, International Disability Alliance spoke about interventions done at the international level portraying issued of persons with disabilities in the broad  SDGs platforms such as the high-level political forum  and representation of of DPOs in all the regional SDGs forums.

Youth leadership in the CRPD implementation

This amazing Canadian-led youth leadership side-event was facilitated by Hon. Minister Carla Qualtrough and featured Canadian youth leaders....