Monday, July 27, 2009

Young Voices: Bringing the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities to Life

From the young voices website: Young Voices is a project of the Leonard Cheshire Disability Global Alliance.

It brings together groups of young people with disabilities from 18 different countries around the world. It gives an opportunity for them to share their experiences, learn about the UN Convention and their human rights. It gives them training in campaigning, advocacy and media skills to help them hold their governments to their obligations under the UN Convention.

The original idea for the Young Voices project came from discussions with groups of young people with disabilities, NGOs and development agencies in West Africa. These highlighted that young disabled people were a neglected group whose voices were rarely heard.

Starting with a pilot project in 2005, Leonard Cheshire Disability worked through local partners to support groups of young people with disabilities in twelve countries. This covered the last two years of the development of the Convention. As these young people became knowledgeable about the Convention, they began to understand how to use their voices to influence policy.

A highlight for participants in the early years of the project was the opportunity to attend the ad-hoc committee of the UN in New York, where they organised a side event. Their passion and enthusiasm reminded everybody deep in negotiations that the rights of millions of people around the world were at stake.

Three years on, groups of young people with disabilities have been formed or are being developed in the following 18 countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Namibia, Swaziland, Botswana, Kenya, Uganda, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, China, Guyana, South Africa, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and the Philippines. A network of effective advocates working closely with disabled people’s organisations and others in civil society has come to life.

During 2008 and 2009 the groups have been telling their stories through film. You can view some of their films on this site now and others will follow shortly.

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