Autism in Africa: Life Saving Awareness

 

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The December 6th session focused on improving the lives of people with autism, advocating policies to prevent social exclusion, and raising awareness. The panelists broadly discussed the importance of improving data, transparency, and accessible resources for community development regarding autism. H.E.s, The Ambassadors of Zambia, Uganda, and Malawi acknowledged the realities of children with autism, whose warning signs often go unnoticed. Parents of speech-disabled children, including H.E.Dr. Mwaba Kasese-Bota, the Ambassador of Zambia, are often unable to find support in the form of specialized schooling in their communities. H.E. Dr. Kasese-Bota stressed the need to connect the realities of autism with the objectives in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 4. In Uganda, people with autism are not recognized as living with a disability. Their families cannot often afford expensive support resources when they are available. Uganda has several modest facilities for children with autism, cerebral palsy and Down’s syndrome. In Malawi, treatments can be unhelpful and even detrimental. However, Malawi’s First Lady, Gertrude Maseko, is a dedicated advocate of autism awareness and access to helpful and non-harmful care.

H.E. David Roet, the Ambassador of Israel confirmed the country’s commitment to African nations and called upon the global community to unite to prevent discrimination, to make effective policies, and to help create a social and economic environment of inclusion. He stressed the need for more specialized medical staff, screening facilities, and schools specialized in care for students with autism. The Missions of Kenya, Poland, Angola and Nigeria focused on enhancing awareness in professional realms including research, collaboration, and efficient and cost-effective delivery of early diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Alan Kadish explained autism and potential contributing factors. He defined the condition as a disability in social awareness and interaction, not intelligence. He discussed United States’ treatment and schooling opportunities for children with autism. One mother described the special Israeli military roles offered to citizens with autism. Dr. Joel Wallach discussed studies of autism in children and the association of environmental change with worsening conditions for the child.

Meeting: “Autism in Africa: Life Saving Awareness Implementing the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (co-organized by the Permanent Missions of Angola, Israel, Japan, Malawi, Uganda and Zambia)

Date/Time/Location: Tuesday, 6 December 2016; 10:00 to 13:00; UN Headquarters, Conference Room 4

Speakers: H.E. Ambassador Dr. Mwaba Kasese-Bota of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Zambia to the United Nations; H.E. Ambassador Dr. Richard Nduhurra of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Uganda to the United Nations; H.E. Ambassador Necton Mhura of the Permanent Mission of Malawi to the United Nations; H.E. Ambassador David Roet of the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations; Counselor Fidel Casimiro on behalf of H.E. Ambassador Ismael Abraão Gaspar Martins of the Permanent Mission of Angola to the United Nations; Margareta Kassangana-Jakubowska Minister-Counsellor Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Poland to the United Nations; Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Kenya to the United Nations; Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations; Dr. Alan Kadish of Touro College; Dr. Joel Wallach, Marylice Fegeley of Parent to Parent of New York State

Written By: Renée S. Landzberg, WIT Representative

Voices of Women, Children and Youth with Disabilities at the UN

HRWThe moderator, Nancy Maguire started the panel discussion by highlighting the importance to acknowledge that the ‘disability’ group is not like one homogenous group and is subject to different perspectives and experiences on the basis of where they are from.

Ambrose Murangira, then shared his personal experience in Uganda. He highlighted the discriminatory practices from childhood to the community level; and faced these challenges by performing, cooperating with his friends and leading his cause. Teachers are also very important in influencing young people. Apart from disability organizations, it is important that all people take the responsibility of ensuring that the disabled community gets their rights. The post 2015 agenda in his opinion, would give this cause the right platform to be heard.

Andrea Mazzarino shared her research on children with disabilities in Russian and Japanese state orphanages. In the case of Russia, the children are abandoned by the sate. According to UNICEF at least, 305,000 children lived in Russian orphanages, which is 2-5% of Russia ‘s total child population. The children with disabilities are victims of violence, neglect and isolation in Russian orphanages. Although a vast majority of these children have one living parent, due to the doctors stating that the children will never be able to develop like normal children under immense pressure from the society, those parents give up their children. In the case of Japan, 25% of 39000 Japanese children live in state institutions; group homes for independent living and foster care have a disability. The lack of inclusion in the educational system has severed consequences in the overall development of these children.  She recommended, that these children should be provided adequate support from communities, parents and foster parents, collectively and to create independent mechanism to ensure institutionalization is used as the only resort.

Finally Rashmi Chopra, shared her research and study on women and girls with disabilities. Women with disabilities are profoundly vulnerable to abuse and often their choices are not heard and abuses remain hidden. The social stigma and exclusion impacts their multiple rights such as health education and a family life. Chopra highlighted the stories of three women from Zambia and India, respectively. Mary and Charity from Zambia were both victims of HIV AIDS and rape. They were abused by their husbands and got limited schooling. Rekha from India suffered from an intellectual disability. Her mother, without any consent and knowledge from Rekha, sterilized her, to protect her from sexual violence. These cases represent the vulnerability of disabled women and girls to abuse and violence.

Meeting Title: Voices of Women, Children and Youth with Disabilities: from Uganda, Zambia, India, Japan and Russia
Speakers: Nancy Maguire, UNICEF Global Youth Council Member; Ambrose Murangira, Executive director, Uganda National Association of the Deaf; Andréa Mazzarino, ACLS Public Fellow, Europe & Central Asia Division, Human Rights Watch; Rashmi Chopra, Fellow, Disability Rights Division, Human Rights Watch.
Date: 11 June 2014
Location: Conference room 5, United Nations Headquarters, New York.
Written by WIT Representative– Aslesha Kaur Dhillon

 

OWG for Sustainable Development Goals: Focus Areas 15 & 16

Focus Area 15: Means of implementation/Global partnership for sustainable development 

Focus area 16: Peaceful and inclusive societies, rule of law and capable institutions

H.E. the Ambassador of Bolivia on behalf of G77 and China acknowledged that the implementation process of the SDGs would determine the success of the program. The G77 delegates reiterated their support of Bolivia’s statement that the MDGs were weakened by the ill-defined implementation programs, particularly for the 8th MDG, and therefore action-orientated targets are key to maximising outcomes.

Delegates commonly asked that focus area 15 address; the removal of tariff boundaries, debt relief, market and trade access, prevention of elicit arms trade and human trafficking. H.E. the Ambassador of Denmark, Ambassador of Switzerland and representatives on behalf of Norway, Germany, France, and Australia, affirmed the need to engage with civil society, media and private sectors alongside multiple levels of governance for successful implementation worldwide.

State ambassadors and those representing the G77, Caricom, and the Non-aligned Movement have emphasised the role of peace as indispensable to the achievement of sustainable development for all states. In particular, H.E. the Ambassador of Croatia, focused on Croatia’s recent experience of war and corrupt governance, which has cemented their firm believe that factors of Sustainable Development are lead by safety, freedom of speech, inclusiveness, and institutions that are both accountable and capable.

Representative of Zimbabwe who spoke on behalf of the Southern African Counties expressed that the primary focus should instead be on the eradication of poverty, which would, in turn, provide peace to states. Representatives of Denmark, Egypt, Cuba and Brazil shared their concerns for inclusive societies and rule of law as a whole focus area and consider instead mainstreaming these targets throughout the paper amongst other focus areas.

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Meeting Title: Eleventh session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (9th meeting: Focus Areas 15 and 16)

Key Speakers:Co-Chair H.E. Ambassador of Hungary Csaba Kőrösi, Co-Chair H.E. Ambassador of Kenya Macharia Kamau and delegates on behalf of: Bolivia, China, Barbados, Iran, Papua New Guinea, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Benin, Lesotho, Colombia, Guatemala, Nauru, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Netherlands, UK, Australia, United States, Canada, Romania, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Sweden, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Switzerland, Germany, France, Singapore, Palau, Liechtenstein, Nigeria, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Latvia, Austria, Portugal, Cuba, Morocco, Egypt, Paraguay, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, India and Vanuatu

Location: United Nations Headquarters, New York

Date: May 9th 2014

Written by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark