RI February 2013 Newsletter

March 5, 2013
Source: Rehabilitation International

Upcoming Meetings and Events

  • 2013, March 21 World Down Syndrome Day and World Down Syndrome Conference 2013 at the UN Headquarters in New York City, USA. This year’s theme is "The Right to Work" and the Conference will focus on the rights of persons with Down syndrome to work in open, inclusive and accessible environments. It will help raise awareness on the importance of promoting early development and education, proper medical care, and providing for independent living in communities. On 21 March 2012, for the first time, World Down Syndrome Day was commemorated at the United Nations and around the world. In 2011, the General Assembly declared 21March as World Down Syndrome Day. For further information please visit: http://www.worlddownsyndromeday.org/
  • 2013, April 2 World Autism Awareness Day. The United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day to highlight the need to help improve the lives of children and adults who suffer from the disorder so they can lead full and meaningful lives. For further information please see: http://www.un.org/en/events/autismday/
  • 2013, April 17 Half-day (12 – 6 pm) of General Discussion on Women and Girls with Disabilities at the UN Headquarters in New York City, USA. The multiple forms of discrimination experienced by women and girls with disabilities, which hinder their meaningful participation on an equal basis with other individuals in all spheres of life, will be in the centre of the discussion, held by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. For further information please go to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CRPD/Pages/CRPDIndex.aspx
  • 2013, April 29 – May 1 6th Geneva Conference on Person- Centered Medicine in Geneva, Switzerland. The main theme is "Personcentered Health Research". A progress report will be presented on the development of the WHO Guide for Person-Centered Care. For further information please go to: http://www.personcenteredmedicine.org/docs/geneva6a.pdf
  • 2013, May 30 – 31 Nordic Network on Disability Research (NNDR) 2013 Conference in Turku, Finland. The conference brings together researchers, policy makers, activists and practitioners to share scholarship and ideas, and provides a forum for Nordic and international collaboration in disability studies. For further information please see: http://nndr2013.fi/
  • 2013, September 23 High-level meeting of the General Assembly on disability and development at the UN in New York, USA. Theme: “The way forward: a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond”.

CRPD Ratification Update
Latest Developments

  • Barbados ratified the Convention on 27-2-2013
  • Albania ratified the Convention on 11-2-2013
  • Cambodia ratified the Convention on 20-12-2012
  • Singapore signed the Convention on 30-11-2012

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

  • 155 signatories
  • 129 ratifications

Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

  • 91 signatories
  • 76 ratifications

For more Information please visit following website:

  • The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published a thematic study on the work and employment of persons with disabilities. In its resolution 19/11, the Human Rights Council had requested OHCHR to prepare the study in consultation with States and other relevant stakeholders, including organizations of persons with disabilities, and national human rights institutions. The study highlights good practices in promoting employment opportunities for persons with disabilities, and identifies the main challenges that States parties encounter in ensuring that persons with disabilities enjoy access to, retention of and advancement in employment on an equal basis with others. It is available at: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Disability/A-HRC-22-25_en.doc
  • An issue brief produced by the International Labor Organization (ILO)
    during the United Nations International Year of Cooperatives 2012 highlights how and why the cooperative form of enterprise can cater to the economic and social needs of persons with disabilities. In recent decades, cooperatives have improved the lives of many women and men with disabilities. Cooperatives enable persons with disabilities to participate more actively in society, increase their independence and make decisions about their lives and futures by providing employment opportunities and access to essential services. Read more about it at:
  • At its 132nd session, WHO's Executive Board adopted a draft resolution on disability that will be debated at the World Health Assembly in May this year. The resolution endorses the recommendations of the World report on disability and calls for WHO and Member States to ensure equal access to health services for persons with disabilities. It can be recalled that Rehabilitation International is one of the five non-governmental organizations which strongly backed the draft resolution. RI’s President Jan Monsbakken made a statement to the WHO Board at its meeting in January, where he cited the need to include disability in WHO’s work and had outlined RI’s work both globally and through its members in over a hundred countries seeking their Health Ministers’ support for the inclusion of disability in the 2013 World Health Assembly agenda. The draft resolution urges States Parties to implement the CRPD, develop plans of action, and ensure that mainstream health services address the needs of people with disabilities. The resolution also requests further action on improving disability data, strengthening health systems for the provision of rehabilitation and assistive technologies, and enhancing communitybased rehabilitation. The resolution constitutes an important step in preparations for the HLMD.

Membership News
– We’d love to hear from you…
Please share with us project summaries/reports, articles and announcements
on events which your organization is planning to hold or has conducted, and
other information which you may want to share with colleagues in the RI
network, our partners and to the rest of the world. Send these to us at this
email address: newsletter@riglobal.org and we will make sure that these
get included in future issues of the RI Newsletter.

  • RI side event on violence against women with disabilities

Rehabilitation International will organize a side event titled “Violence Against Women with Disabilities – a Global Challenge” in collaboration with the Norwegian Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, at the 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. The side event scheduled from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. on 4 March will highlight the specific and added challenges faced by disabled women on account of their gender, poverty and disability. RI President Jan Monsbakken will moderate the session. For more information, visit the RI website: www.riglobal.org

  • 2012 RI General Assembly

Over 200 RI members from 34 countries have gathered in Incheon, Republic of Korea for RI’s 2012 General Assembly held at the Songdo Convensia on 29 October 2012. The gathering was significant in view of RI’s celebration of its 90th year of founding where RI members who distinguished themselves for their years of work promoting disability and rehabilitation in their countries and regions of the world, were given the 2012 RI Presidential Award for Exemplary Service to Rehabilitation International. The awardees each received a plaque and a personal letter from RI President, Anne Hawker.

Meanwhile, Anne gave the RI Assembly, a consolidated report titled “Our Journey Over the Last Four years” which highlighted the following: (a) the importance of transparency (b) working as a team to lay the foundation for a new RI (c) getting focused through a 2013-2017 Strategic Plan that will guide RI’s global work for the next four years (d) development of RI products that can bring new revenues to the organization (e) conduct of a survey that reflects feedback and expectations of members as a guide to RI’s future work (f) sustained dissemination of information through the monthly newsletter and the RI website (g) updates on the CRPD and RI’s involvement in this and other UN agencies’ initiatives (h) forming new partnerships with other players in the field (i) taking a proactive role in influencing the agenda of the 2013 World Health Assembly to include a resolution on disability (j) working for an efficient and professional RI Secretariat and, (k) understanding, promoting and ensuring good fiscal management of RI.

At the closing of the 2012 General Assembly, RI’s new President Jan A. Monsbakken said while these times are very challenging, he believes RI will survive the challenges in view of its unique construction as both a multi-disability and multi-disciplinary organization. He indicated that he will work to create partnerships and collaboration to build on RI’s work and accomplishments from the last four years.

  • The GA was capped by a night of celebration organized by RI members in Korea, to mark and celebrate RI’s 90 years of work to promote the wellbeing of persons with disabilities worldwide.We have been asked by our colleagues from RI-Denmark to share with you the following report about the struggle of a girl from India who has been a victim of violence and abuse and her inspiring story in seeking justice. As many of you are aware of, our colleagues at RI-Denmark and RI Global have kept an eye on this case for the last couple of years.

Durga Devi, a heart patient from Navangavamur near Chennai in Tamil Nadu, South India, suffered from child sexual abuse (CSA) at the age of 13. The crime was committed by her physics teacher. The managing trustee as well as the headmaster, the local police, high ranking police officers, local officials and politicians as well as politicians of the former Government of Tamil Nadu did not show any interest rendering support and justice to victim Durgha. With the help of the German donor YOGA-VEREINIGUNG RAJAGOPALAN e. V. she retained Mr. Moorthy Sridhar, a very well-known and respected criminal lawyer in Chennai. He started the legal fight in July 2008. Several times Mr. Sridhar had to appeal to the Chennai High Court to interfere and push the case forward. Otherwise justice for Durga would have been killed by the strength of money power and political influence. Finally the judgement was given by the local magistrate court on 11. Dec. 2012 after a last, strong warning of the High Court to finish the case: the teacher has been convicted to 2 years rigorous imprisonment and a fine. This judgement does first of all give justice to victim Durga, which she deserves after such a long and brave fight. Beyond that the success of her fight will give other affected children and also women the courage to come forward, speak boldly and get justice much faster by referring to this landmark judgement. In that way it will have a fundamental impact on the necessary change of attitude in the Indian society, especially the politicians and police, to protect children and women effectively from CSA. According to a study of the Indian Government from March 2007 every second girl and every third boy has to suffer from CSA minimum one time in her/his young life. RI GLOBAL, RI EUROPE and RI DENMARK respected and appreciated Mr. Sridhar’s sincere commitment and tireless, competent and efficient effort for sexually abused children and their human rights in India by granting him an “Award of Honour”. To appreciate and respect Durga, RI GLOBAL, RI EUROPE and RI DENMARK granted her also an award of honour. In July 2011 RI Denmark honoured Durga for her commitment by nominating her for the International Children’s Peace Prize 2011. The attitude and commitment of Durga is a shining example for everybody in any society, how to fight for justice, dignity, mutual respect and a change. If you are interested to learn more about this case please contact Ingrid.Gram@gmail.com (Board Member RI-Denmark) or Jan.Johansen@STAB.RM.DK (National Secretary, RI-Denmark).

  • Dr. Uma Tuli (see picture) the Founder & Managing Secretary of RI Indian member Amar Jyoti Charitable Trust wishes to share with all of you their updated website with all the news about the various activities of the organization. The most rewarding recognition was Mr. Aamir Khan’ s, an Indian film actor, director, and producer who has established himself as one of the leading actors of Hindi cinema, visit to Amar Jyoti when he made a film on inclusion which was included in the episodes of “Satyamev Jayate”. Amar Jyoti’s newest publication “Inclusion – The Amar Jyoti Way” has also been brought out after the overwhelming response to the TV episode on disability. It introduces the concept of inclusion, describes the holistic approach, explains the methods for including children with different types of disabilities and provides information about teaching methods, aids and equipment. Links and resources are also included. For further information please visit: http://www.amarjyotirehab.org

Other News

  • For the first time, scientists at Carnegie Mellon University's Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging (CCBI) have used a new combination of neural imaging methods to discover exactly how the human brain adapts to injury. The research, published in “Cerebral Cortex”, shows that when one brain area loses functionality, a "back-up" team of secondary brain areas immediately activates, replacing not only the unavailable area but also its confederates. For further information please go to : http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130116092151.htm?utm_so
  • Physician-scientists at Oregon Health & Science University Doernbecher Children's Hospital are challenging the way pediatric neurologists think about brain injury in the pre-term infant. In a study published online in the Jan. 16 issue of Science Translational Medicine, the OHSU Doernbecher researchers report for the first time that low blood and oxygen flow to the developing brain does not, as previously thought, cause an irreversible loss of brain cells, but rather disrupts the cells' ability to fully mature. This discovery opens up new avenues for potential therapies to promote regeneration and repair of the premature brain. For further information please see: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130117162920.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fhealth_medicine%2Fdisability+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Health+%26+Medicine+News+--+Disability%29
  • On January 25, 2013 the US Department of Education has released guidance that clarifies existing legal obligations of schools to provide students with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate alongside their peers in after-school athletics and clubs. This guidance makes clear that schools may not exclude students who have an intellectual, developmental, physical, or any other disability from trying out and playing on a team, if they are otherwise qualified. Federal civil rights laws require schools to provide equal opportunities, not give anyone an unfair head start. So schools don’t have to change the essential rules of the game, and they don’t have to do anything that would provide a student with a disability an unfair competitive advantage. The department suggests minor accommodations to incorporate students with disabilities onto sports teams. For instance, track and field officials could use a visual cue for a deaf runner to begin a race. The guidance will help schools meet this obligation and will allow increasing numbers of kids with disabilities the chance to benefit from playing sports. Some US states already offer such programs. Maryland, for instance, passed a law in 2008 that required schools to create equal opportunities for students with disabilities to participate in physical education programs and play on traditional athletic teams. And Minnesota awards state titles for disabled student athletes in six sports. For further information please see: http://www.ed.gov/
  • Germany submits National Human Rights Report to United Nations Germany submitted its national report reviewing its human rights situation to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on January 23, 2013. The 20-page report outlines how Germany has implemented the recommendations from the last Universal Periodic Review in February 2009, what steps have been taken to fulfill obligations laid down in international human rights treaties and what topics dominate the national debate on human rights. Universal Periodic Review is a central instrument of the Human Rights Council aiming to improve human rights worldwide through dialogue and cooperation. All countries are subject to review. As part of Universal Periodic Review, Germany will respond to questions in the Human Rights Council in Geneva on April 25, 2013. Markus Löning, Federal Government Human Rights Commissioner, issued the following statement on January 23, 2013: “Like all countries, we take part in Universal Periodic Review, the United Nations’ human rights check, every four years. In our report, we present what we have done in the last four years to improve the human rights situation in Germany and where we see need for further steps. Germany has reached a very high level in the protection of human rights but some questions remain which we need to work on. In April we will respond to the questions posed by the other countries.”
  • On December 12, 2012, her majesty Margrethe II of Denmark opened the “Handicaporganisationernes Hus” (Danish Disability Organization House) in Taastrup, close to Copenhagen. The Queen praised the house and the hard work that has gone into innovative and beautiful details, that makes this house the world’s most accessible office. The house is the first office building, with 100 percent accessible to all, regardless of disability. A total of 17 disability-and 6 non-profit organizations are now housed in the world's first office building, which is accessible to all people
    with disabilities. For further information please visit:

Resource Update

  • Presbyterian Senior Services (PSS) in New York is looking for an experienced, self-directed fundraiser to assist with donor development, mail and online campaigns, and fundraising events for 12 to 15 hours per week. Minimum of three years of fundraising experience required. Must have competency in computer and internet use, ability to communicate effectively and represent the agency in the community. Email your resume to rjasin@pssusa.org or check their website http://www.pssusa.org
  • The American Council of the Blind (ACB) annually awards approximately 20 scholarships ranging in amounts from $1,000 to $2,500 to vocational, entering freshmen, undergraduate and graduate college students who are legally blind, maintain a 3.3 GPA and are involved in their school/local community. Applications may be submitted beginning Dec. 1 and all materials must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on March 1. To read the scholarship guidelines and complete an on-line application, please visit www.acb.org/scholarship.

Resource Material

  • Disability at a Glance in Asia and the Pacific 2012: Towards Strengthening the Evidence Base, ISBN 13: 9789211206500, Publisher: United Nations, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. With the conclusion of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 2003-2012, and the proclamation of the new Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022, ESCAP members and associate members and key stakeholders have a unique opportunity to accelerate action towards realizing the vision of a disability-inclusive society that protects, empowers and ensures equality for the 650 million persons with disabilities in the Asia-Pacific region. There is an urgent need to accurately identify persons with disabilities as well as the nature and extent of their disability and their socioeconomic characteristics. Reliable and comparable data are an essential component of a rigorous evidence base to design and implement effective policy and program responses. This fourth edition of Disability at a Glance draws the attention of policy makers and key stakeholders involved in disability policy and program designs to the need of improving the quality of disability data and of enhancing the evidence base.
  • Persons with disabilities are among the poorest in the developing world and are often left out of development projects. This often happens because development organizations simply do not know how to include them. “Count me in. Include people with disabilities in development projects” is a practical guide that offers suggestions and useful tips on how to launch inclusive programs and projects, how to prepare staff working with persons with disabilities and how to adapt your organizational processes and systems. It is available for free at:


Ending violence against women is not a short ride

Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread violations of human rights. In some countries, up to 7 in 10 women will be beaten, raped, abused or mutilated in their lifetimes. To raise awareness and trigger action to end this global phenomenon, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November), and the ensuing 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence are commemorated every year around the world. To raise awareness about violence against women and girls was the mission of “Ride On! Speak Out!” organized by Harley-Davidson Johannesburg and UN Women. Fifteen men rode in a motorcycle caravan across nine countries in southern Africa from 25 November to 10 December 2012. The ride covered 8,200 km (over 5,000 miles). Riders stopped along the way to visit shelters for abused women, take part in rallies and meet with men’s and women’s groups. The general consensus was that bikers are big and tough and the fact is that bikers can spread the message that it’s not cool to beat women. The group raised some funds for the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. They also met with the Permanent Secretaries of Gender in both Lesotho and Mozambique – both men – who were very keen to make a difference for women. To reinforce the importance of men speaking up against violence, they also met with groups such as the Swazi Boys bikers’ association of Swaziland, which has adopted an orphanage and was also keen to support the caravan’s cause. But for the bikers this ride was just the first. Another ride is planned for Valentine’s Day, to include female riders this time. Another initiative involves a trip from Harley Davidson’s headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Johannesburg, and possibly even around-the-world trip, which could take more than 12 months. To read more about the ride please go to: http://rideon.hdavidson.co.za/the-riders/.

Ending violence against women is one of UN Women’s priority areas. UN Women also coordinates the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign and supports widespread social mobilization through its Say NO – UNiTE to End Violence against Women platform. In addition, UN Women manages the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women which commemorated its 16th anniversary in 2012. This year, UN Women launches “COMMIT” – a new global initiative which calls on leaders worldwide to fulfill their promise and take a stand to end violence against women and girls. It will showcase concrete national commitments to ending the scourge of such violence.

Ending violence against women will be the main theme of the forthcoming 57th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, to take place from 4-15 March 2013 in New York. The international gathering where countries report on their country’s progress on women’s rights and gender equality will focus on prevention and multi-sectoral responses to violence against women and girls.

We hope you enjoyed reading this issue of the RI Monthly Newsletter. Tell us about your activities and other stories so we can share it with RI members and the world.