Nairobi, Kenya, 6 March 2014 – A conference hosted by the International Disability Alliance (IDA) to deepen dialogue between national, regional and global organisations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) began in Nairobi, Kenya today. The three-day event aims to strengthen advocacy amongst DPOs in order to promote inclusive development in the future global development framework.

The conference will assess and analyse the situation for persons with disabilities on the African continent within the context of the post 2015-development agenda. High on the agenda will be the issue of advocacy and a deeper commitment and cooperation between African DPOs, intergovernmental bodies and development cooperation agencies operating in African countries.

There are an estimated one billion persons with disabilities worldwide—80 per cent of which live in developing countries. Persons with disabilities are overrepresented amongst those living in absolute poverty; face restricted access to health care, education and employment opportunities and, in many instances, are the first victims of violence and abuse. The conference provides an opportunity to address these issues, by reflecting on relevant future goals and advocacy work, in order to develop a strong and unified message regarding the inclusion of persons with disabilities in future development goals.

“The motto used during the drafting of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) was “Nothing about us without us.” This means that nothing about persons with disabilities can be decided without participation from every region of the world, including Africa.  Africa is strong, and now is the time to raise a unified voice that says that persons with disabilities can be heard and can make a difference,” said Mr. Yannis Vardakastanis, chair of IDA, during the opening session of the conference.

Held in cooperation with the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC), the UN Partnership to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN PRPD), UNICEF, the Swedish International Development Agency and CBM, the conference will host over 70 representatives of government, regional bodies and civil society. Participants include ministry representatives from Kenya and Malawi, government representatives from Uganda, representatives from the African Union, the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities UN Secretariat, UNICEF and numerous regional and international organisations of persons with disabilities.

The International Disability Alliance was established in 1999 as a network of eight global and four regional organisations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) and their families, representing the estimated one billion persons with disabilities worldwide. IDA’s unique composition as a network of international DPOs allows it to act as an authoritative and representative voice of persons with disabilities in the United Nations system, both in New York and Geneva.