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Representatives from Antigua and Barbuda were among over 60 delegates from 10 Caribbean countries who recently came together in Barbados to discuss issues related to disability rights, inclusion, and freedom from violence.
The consultation provided a platform for disability rights advocates and activists from across the region to voice their concerns and shed light on the barriers faced by persons with disabilities in leading independent and productive lives.
The forum was attended by representatives from governments and organizations of persons with disabilities, as well as renowned regional disability rights advocates.
President of the Association of Persons Living with Disabilities Bernard Warner and his Vice President attended the session, which is said to highlight the need for persons with disabilities to be included in any decisions made regarding their human rights, inclusion, and freedom from violence.
He said the forum also highlighted the need for education to be at the center of any discussion about the rights of persons with disabilities, starting with early childhood education.
“The conference really strengthened the bond and the credibility of persons with disabilities leading the way and advocating on their behalf, with an emphasis on the government to listen and to take into consideration and concerns of people living with disabilities”, he said
The forum participants discussed the steps towards true inclusion and enhanced participation, which included the establishment of quotas to ensure employment opportunities, increased access to assistive technology and devices, and systematic training of key workers in the health and social protection systems about disability rights and inclusion.
It was one of many global events commemorating the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
The session on disabilities and intersectoral approaches emphasized the need for persons with disabilities to speak with authority when lobbying for their rights.
During a session on disabilities and intersectoral approaches, Joy-Ann Harrigan, Education Officer, Special Needs with the Ministry of Education and Sports in Antigua and Barbuda, emphasized the importance of advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities.
Dr. Floyd Morris, Special Rapporteur for Disabilities for CARICOM and member of the Committee on the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), highlighted the various rights enshrined in the CRPD. Cheryl Adams, President of the organization Voice of the Disabled in Saint Vincent, stressed the need for persons with disabilities to speak assertively when lobbying for their rights.
The consultation proved to be a constructive environment for disability rights advocates and activists to share their insights and agree on the need for enhanced participation, inclusion, and freedom from violence for persons with disabilities in the Caribbean.
The consultation was organized jointly by the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Caribbean Regional Spotlight Initiative, UN Women, UNFPA and UNICEF.
Participants also came from Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname.