A delegation representing the Australian Cross Disability Alliance (ACDA) attended the 9th Session of the Conference of States Parties (COSP) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). #COSP9 ran from 14th to 16th June 2016 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. It was a significant year, as 2016 will mark ten years since the United Nations’ adoption of the CRPD.

The WWDA Youth Network interviewed seven delegates, both Civil Society and Government, working in countries around the world. We discussed the global barriers facing young women and girls with disability, and the changes each of these advocates hoped to see in the years to come.

The overall theme for the conference was:

Implementing the 2030 development agenda for all persons with disabilities: Leaving no one behind

Leave No One Behind

Side events and discussions during #COSP9 addressed five sub themes:

1. Eliminating poverty and inequality for all persons with disabilities 

[Alexis Smith] the value placed on womanhood, and being a woman, and what that means.

2. Promoting the rights of persons with mental and intellectual disabilities

[Jolijn Santegoeds] People have the right to which support they want, and they can get the support they want, and that's what I hope will be achieved in 10 years.

3. Enhancing accessibility to information and technology and inclusive development

[Zeeshan Khan] I think a lot of it has to do with access, because there's a lot of information out there. There's a lot of resources.

4. Progressing the rights and visibility of intersectional groups, including women and youth

[Maegan Shanks] It's not just disability, or just women, or just youth. We are all three.

5. Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the CRPD

[Lieke Scheewe] I hope in 10 years you will just see more women with disabilities in influential positions.

Meet the stars of this video: 

[image] Abia Akram

Abia Akram is the first woman from Pakistan, and the first woman with disabilities to be nominated as the Coordinator for Commonwealth Young Disabled People’s Forum. She is also the chair of the Youth Council of UNICEF, the co-chair of Asia Pacific Women with Disabilities United, and the Projects Director of Special Talent Exchange Program (STEP). 1

[image] Alexis Smith

Alexis Smith is a graduate of Harvard University, and now holds the position of Development Director for Empowerment Through Integration (ETI), a nonprofit organization seeking to change the narrative surrounding disability for blind and sighted youth in Lebanon and Nicaragua. 2

[image] Zeeshan Khan

Zeeshan Khan studied Economics and Accounting at the University of California. He is the founder of EnabledTech and is working with companies to help build more accessible products for people with disabilities. He also works on the curriculum team at Empowerment Through Integration (ETI) and help out with other programs.3

[image] Lieke Scheewe

Lieke Scheewe is a graduate of the University for Peace in Costa Rica. She is the Programme Coordinator at Light For The World, an NGO working to promote healthcare and rehabilitation services and equal opportunities for people with disabilities in developing countries. She is the Chair of the Board at InclusionLab, and has held positions on numerous other boards both in the Netherlands and internationally. 4

[image] Maegan Shanks

Maegan Shanks has her Masters in International Development from Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. Maegan is the Disability Inclusive Development Learning Coordinator at CBM International. She is skilled in both American Sign Language (ASL) and Kenyan Sign Language. 5

[image] Heba Harass

Dr. Heba Hagrass is a Member of the Egyptian Parliament and widely recognised as an advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities in Egypt, the Arab Region, and worldwide since 1989. She was a board member of the National Council for Disability Affairs (NCDA) and a founding member of the Inclusive Education Foundation in Egypt (IEF). She worked as a consultant for many organisations, including International Disability Alliance (IDA), Disabled People International (DPI), Rehabilitation International (RI), Save the Children UK6

[image] Jolijn Santegoeds

Jolijn Santegoeds is a grassroots human rights activist. She is the founder and chair of MindRights, a not-for-profit organisation that advocates against solitary confinement, restraints and other forced interventions by mental health care. She is also a board member of the European Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (ENUSP) and is one of the two Co-Chairs of the World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (WNUSP). 7

For more interesting and informative videos go to: WWDA Youth Network Videos

1   “Leading the Way for Young Women and Girls with Disabilities,” Beijing20.unwomen.org, Accessed 2016, http://beijing20.unwomen.org/en/news-and-events/stories/2015/2/woa-pakistan-abia-akram

2  “Alexis Smith,” Etivision.org, Accessed 2016, http://www.etivision.org/alexis-smith

3  “Zeeshan Khan,” Etivision.org, Accessed 2016, http://www.etivision.org/zeeshan-khan/

4  “Lieke Scheewe,” Linkedin.com, Accessed 2016, https://www.linkedin.com/in/lieke-scheewe-448b399

5  “Maegan Shanks,” Linkedin.com, Accessed 2016, https://www.linkedin.com/in/maegan-shanks-28677137

6  “Speaker: Heba Hagrass,” Cairo16.helmegypt.org, Accessed 2016, http://cairo16.helmegypt.org/speaker-heba-hagrass/

7  “MindRights: torture-free psychiatry,” GoFundMe.com, Accessed 2016,  https://www.gofundme.com/mindrights