RI March 2013 newsletter

April 8, 2013
Source: Rehabilitation International

Dates & venues for the upcoming RI meetings Dates Meeting Place
March 26, 2013 RI Commission meeting (Work & Employment, Health & Function, Policy & Services)
Berlin, Germany

April 18, 2013 9am-3pm RI Europe meeting
Ljubljana, Slovenia

May 16-19, 2013 EC Meeting
Oslo, Norway

September 20-21, 2013 EC & Commission Meetings
New York, U.S.A.

September 22, 2013 2013 RI GA
New York, U.S.A.

October 6-10, 2014 RI European Conference on Rehabilitation
Poland (expected in Warsaw)

For more information please see our website www.riglobal.org

RI News

 Dear members,

We thank all of you who have already made their payment of the RI membership dues 2013. If you have not yet paid your dues for this year/previous years, you are kindly requested to do so. Payment of your dues remains the lifeblood of the organization and it would be appreciated if you facilitate remittance of your payment. If you have any further questions please contact me at the Secretariat: iris@riglobal.org.

May I also remind you to check on the updated RI Directory 2013 that I posted on our website (www.riglobal.org, -Membership, -- Member Documents, --- RI Directory 2013) as requested in the February issue of the RI Newsletter? Only if all the information is up to date we can make sure to provide you always with the latest news. Thank you for your cooperation.

Recent activities:

RI Side Event on Violence against Women with Disabilities: A Global Challenge – well received at 57th CSW.
Rehabilitation International’s focus on mainstreaming Women with Disabilities in the global discourse on violence against women was very much appreciated by participants in the recently-concluded 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. This was demonstrated by the conference room used for the side event at the UN Church Center, having been fully packed with women and men from all over the world, who took the time to participate in the RI Event. They have also remained in the room from beginning to end of the event which is not always the case in UN side events. Many of the participants did not only raise questions, made comments but have also thanked RI for undertaking this initiative and for bringing the issue of women with disabilities into the agenda of the 57th session of the CSW.

Rehabilitation International’s side event on “Violence Against Women with Disabilities: A Global Challenge”, held on the opening day on March 4, of the 57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW57) was attended by an enthusiastic audience, who took turns to ask questions and provided comments to a panel spearheaded by Inga Marte Thorkildsen, Minister of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion of Norway (see picture right), who spoke passionately on the need to discuss violence against women and girls at every available venue to create awareness on this issue and bring it to the attention of governments who need to do something to condemn and stop these acts against women in general and those with disabilities in particular.

The RI side event was among the first civil society-initiated side events and the very first one that highlighted the need to address issues related to violence and abuse against women and girl children with disabilities in this year’s session of the CSW.

Jan Monsbakken, RI President moderated the panel with two other panelists, RI Secretary General Venus Ilagan and Nepali Social Scientist, Dr. Bishnu Dhungana (see picture left), each taking a very strong stand on the importance of families and communities providing the necessary support to encourage aggrieved women with disabilities to speak about the violence committed against them and pursue the filing of a case against suspects instead of suffering in silence.

RI which has been in the frontlines in advocating for disability rights has made it clear that it has particular interest in advocating for the rights of women with disabilities, largely believed as among the least protected among members of the disability community. Both the RI President and Secretary General are known for their involvement in international work to promote rights of women in general with particular interest on women and girls with disabilities.

Conclusions from CSW57

At the closing of the 57th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW57) on March 16, 2013, member-states, intergovernmental organizations, civil society and UN agencies have committed to eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls, ending impunity for perpetrators, fully engaging men and boys, and advancing women empowerment and gender equality to prevent and end these human rights violations.

Michelle Bachelet, UN Women Executive Director, said “by adopting this document, governments have made clear that discrimination and violence against women and girls has no place in the 21st century. They reaffirmed their commitment and responsibility to undertake concrete action to end violence against women and girls and to promote and protect women’s human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

Rehabilitation International, in collaboration with the Norwegian Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, conducted a side event at the opening day of the CSW57th on March 4, to highlight the importance of including issues of violence against women and girl-children with disabilities, in the overall discussion of violence against women, at all levels.

In her closing remarks, Michelle Bachelet, shared her resignation with the floor, stating “This will be my last session of the CSW. For personal reasons, I will go back to my country. Be sure that I will continue working for women’s empowerment and gender equality. It has been an honor and a privilege to be part of this historical moment with all of you. The Commission on the Status of Women was created with great foresight to be the preeminent global forum for advancing the human rights of women.”

Overall, CSW57 was a historical commission with the biggest number of registered participants of about 6000 individuals. The theme: “Elimination and Prevention of all Forms of Violence Against Women and Girls” – witnessed the paramount engagement from civil society and demonstrated the enormity of the violence experienced by women and girls.

Next year’s priority theme is “Achieving the Millennium Development Goals for Women and Girls”.

More on RI activities this issue

UNESCO Meetings February 26, 2013

RI President Jan Arne Monsbakken was invited to participate in the WSIS + 10 Meeting in Paris. This was a review meeting as a follow up of the World Summit adopting the Plan of Action 10 years ago. The visit at UNESCO started with a meeting with Maki Hayashikawa (Chief of section for Basic Education) – see picture below of Maki Hayashikawa (right) and Irmgarda Kasinskaite (left) and other staff members at Ms. Hayashikawa’s office. Jan Arne Monsbakken made a presentation of RI and its global work. UNESCO indicated interest in some form of cooperation with RI in the future, including possibility for RI Global to have a formal relationship with UNESCO. RI’s Education Commission will likewise continue to work closely with UNESCO in the future. RI Global provided inputs to UNESCO’s ICT initiative on Access Information and Knowledge for Persons with Disabilities last year. The book was published by UNESCO in Paris on February 26 this year. RI’s Dr. Uma Tuli and RI President Jan A. Monsbakken were named in this publication. RI’s President participated in the workshop: “Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Knowledge Societies”. The workshop was based on a report edited by Axel Leblois: “Review and Strategic Directions for Building Inclusive Knowledge Societies for Persons with Disabilities”. Stakeholders from all over the world took part in this workshop. Jan Monsbakken stressed the importance of involving NGOs and in putting a stronger responsibility on these organizations in the future work on this issue. Alex Leblois has edited his report based on the inputs generated from the workshop.

European Research Project on Disability – Kick off Meeting in Brussels – February 27-28, 2013

The Norwegian Research Institute NOVA (Norwegian Social Research) is responsible for carrying out the Research Project: “Making Persons with Disabilities Full Citizens”, a 3 year undertaking funded by the EU through the “Seventh Framework Program”. RI President, Jan Arne Monsbakken, is participating in this project on behalf of RI together with other important NGO stakeholders in the “European Stakeholder Committee”. This Committee is expected to meet thrice during the project. Seven different stakeholders comprise the Committee. Kick off Meeting was attended by about 30 persons who are involved in this very important project which is interesting, but is also challenging. The RI President believes that it will be carried out in a successful way by all involved who are known as competent researchers and advisors. He is looking forward to the outcome of this research project which can contribute to better lives for persons with Disabilities in Europe. This initiative involves several research institutes and researchers from Europe and the US. The research will take place in 6 different countries in Europe. The project is named DISCIT. More information is available from this website: http://discit.eu/about

  • Women with disabilities from Asia-Pacific, their allies and supporters, held a side event on Friday, 8 March, titled WWD & Violence: Challenges and Visions in the Asia-Pacific” to commemorate the International Day of Women. At the side event held at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the UN, a pre-launch of the “Asia-Pacific Women with Disabilities United” was held. As a guest panelist, Akiko Ito, Chief of the UNCRPD Secretariat, announced the launching on March 8, of an online consultation to generate inputs from persons with disabilities and other stakeholders for the outcome document that’s being worked out for the High Level Meeting on Disability (HLMD) scheduled for 23 September 2013 at the UN in New York. She encouraged women in the room to contribute their perspectives on disability, gender and equality and protection of women particularly those with disabilities, in the online consultation. Other speakers were Maulani Rotinsulu, one of RI’s women-leaders in Indonesia who spent many years doing advocacy work for persons with disabilities in her country; Karin Swift, president of Women with Disabilities Australia, Mijoo Kim from Republic of Korea, Chanpheng Sivila from Lao PDR and Tikah Dahal from Nepal. The side event was organized through the support of Kate Lappin, Regional Coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development based in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
  • The Arab Times published a detailed report about RI’s activities in
    Kuwait in its February 13 issue. Under request from the Kuwait Society for the Handicapped (KSH), RI held a workshop in February outlining the
    ongoing proposal for the Kuwait Access Strategy (KAS), dealing with the
    needs of disabled people. The workshop comprised of several presentations by Michael Fox, Chair of the RI Foundation and the RI Working Group on Humanitarian Emergencies and former President of RI (2004-2008), and Joseph Kwan, Global Chair of RI International Commission on Technology and Accessibility (ICTA). Primarily, Mr. Fox and Mr. Kwan addressed the issue of developing the correct legislation and drafting the correct laws - most importantly focusing on Kuwait ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The KAS involves 4 stages - reviewing the existing legislation regarding access for disabled people in Kuwait, reviewing the different types of buildings in Kuwait and the kinds of planning they would require, holding various different workshops and meetings in Kuwait (including ones with the government, students and architects) and finally the
    actual access strategy that includes recommendations to the government.
    KAS provides recommendations for removing barriers which prevent disabled people from becoming full, active and assimilated members of society, as well as reviews on the technical specifications currently being used, and what is required to implement them. The strategy, if adopted, will take approximately 2-3 years to implement, given that legislation can take 1-2 years to draft, and the process can be fast-tracked if Kuwait chooses to use a template from another country in terms of legislation. To read the full article please visit:

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.

Upcoming Meetings and Events

  • 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:
  • 2013, May 3 “Community Living for all” in Aras Moyola, National University of Ireland, in Galway, Republic of Ireland. The conference is on the future role of the European Union Structural funds to advance community living for older people and people with disabilities and will be held in association with the Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU. For further information please visit:
  • 2013, May 27 – 28 Cameroon 2013 – International Workshop “Ageing and Healthy Environments” in Yaounde, Cameroon. The International Federation on Ageing (IFA) together with Friends of IFA Japan (FOIFA), with collaboration from local partners, will co-host this workshop. It will focus on four themes: 1. Health and Wellbeing into Old Age; 2. Elder Abuse; 3. Older Persons and Crisis Management; and 4. Age-Friendly Environments. For further information please see: http://www.ifa-fiv.org/ifaactivities/ifa-conferences-meetings/cameroon/
  • 2013, June 18 – 20 38th World Hospital Congress “Future Health Care-The opportunities of new technology” in Oslo, Norway. The Norwegian Hospital and Health Service Association (NSH) and The
    International Hospital Federation (IHF) is behind this Congress. The planning of the conference is underway to present great solutions for improved opportunities to make good diagnoses and provide appropriate treatment in healthcare services worldwide. Online registration opened one year prior on June 18th 2012. For further information and to register please go to: http://www.oslo2013.no
  • 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”.
  • 2013, November 27 – 29 2013 World Forum for Democracy "Rewiring democracy - reconnecting citizens and democratic institutions in the information age" in Strasbourg, France. The forum will be organized by the Council of Europe in partnership with the City of Strasbourg and a range of international organizations, think tanks, foundations, and other partners from the public and private sectors. It will provide a platform for emerging leaders and grassroots initiatives that foster participation and re-connect citizens and democratic institutions. Participants from the world of politics, academia, civil society, business, media and social networks will critically review these innovative initiatives, assess their mainstreaming potential, inject new ideas into them, and identify the most promising ones for further promotion and dissemination. Participants, as well as the "global community" (via social networks and internet voting) will select the most promising initiatives that will receive the Council of Europe recognition for democratic innovation. For further information please see: http://www.coe.int/en/web/world-forum-democracy/home
  • On 23 September 2013, the UN General Assembly will hold a Highlevel
    Meeting on disability and development, with the overarching theme “The way forward: a disability-inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond”, at UN Headquarters in New York. To ensure that the post-2015 agenda is inclusive of disability, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs in collaboration with UNICEF is holding an online moderated consultation to gather views from a broad range of stakeholders on how to include disability in the post-2015 development framework, in order to contribute to the ongoing work for the High-level Meeting. You can take part in this online consultation, starting on 8 March and running for three weeks until 28 March. To participate, please visit: www.worldwewant2015.org/enable and log-in or
    register here: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/register.
  • The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan. E.
    Méndez, called for an international debate on abuses in health-care
    settings that may cross a threshold of maltreatment equivalent to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment at the Human Rights Council on March 5, 2013. The groundbreaking report analyses all forms of abuse labeled as ‘health-care treatment’ which try to be premised or justified by health-care policies. It also identifies the scope of State’s obligations to regulate, control and supervise health-care practices with a view to preventing maltreatment under any pretext and the policies that promote these practices and existing protection gaps. The full report by the Special Rapporteur is available here:

Resource Update

  • The World Forum for Democracy – Strasbourg 2013 is calling for expressions of interest (see also “Upcoming Meetings and Events” in this issue of the RINewsletter). The Forum will work through a series of informal, creative labs, enabling a frank and intensive debate, in an “open source” format. The content of the Forum will be co-created by the Council of Europe and a wide range of partners – organizations, institutions, civic movements and groups – who wish to submit their ideas and practice to the Forum peer review. If you are interested in making a submission, please go to http://www.ictparliament.org/sites/default/files/wfd__call_for_interest14022013.doc, fill out the questionnaire and return it by 31 March to Ms Irena Guidikova (irena.guidikova@coe.int), tel. + 33 3 8841 32 19.
  • Innovation Award: Call for Stories The Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) seeks to find and bring to scale the most incredible stories on people’s empowerment around the globe. You can nominate yourself, or another person you admire who empowered you and therefore your unique and special story. This innovation award represents DSPD’s commitment to the promotion of people’s empowerment and social development globally. It is administered by DSPD as part of its mission to promote more equitable growth, seeks to identify innovative approaches for poverty eradication, social integration, full employment and decent work for all. The deadline for submitting your stories is 14 May 2013. For more information please go to: http://empowerment.unsdn.org/
  • The Journal of Public Mental Health (JPMH) announces a call for papers for a special issue on mental health and human rights, to be published in 2013. Accepted contributions include original research papers, systematic reviews, policy analyses and case studies. In 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse launched the QualityRights (QR) Project, which aims to improve the quality and human rights conditions in mental health and social care facilities and empower civil society organizations to advocate for the rights of people with mental and psychosocial disabilities. This call for papers aims to inform the core objectives of QualityRights. JPMH hopes to attract papers from academics, practitioners and activists in resource-scarce countries. Papers submitted for this special edition should be marked with “QualityRights” in the title. The manuscript selection process will follow the Journal’s peer-review procedures. Submit articles to http://emeraldinsight.com/products/journals/journals.htm?id=jpmh before 1 June 2013.

Resource Material

  • “A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities”, written by Jane Maxwell, Julia Watts Belser, and Darlena David, first published in 2007 is now available in the HealthWiki for the first time. ISBN: 978-0-942364-50-7, price: $24.00. For further information please visit: http://en.hesperian.org/hhg/A_Health_Handbook_for_Women_with_Disabilities
  • The Disability at a Glance series, which started in 2006, serves as a companion for policymakers, statisticians and representatives of organizations of, and for, persons with disabilities in Asia and the Pacific. These publications aim to provide a regional overview of disability policies and practices, as well as relevant country data and information. The fourth edition, Disability at a Glance 2012: Strengthening the Evidence Base in Asia and the Pacific continues this tradition. It highlights the complexity of interpreting disability data and stresses the urgent need to work towards a greater common understanding of disability, related data and data collection practices. Here you find the Publication Link: http://www.unescap.org/publications/detail.asp?id=1521

Other News

  • The 2013 Access City award for disabled-friendly cities goes to Berlin (Germany). The Access City Award recognizes and celebrates cities with over 50.000 inhabitants which take exemplary initiatives to improve accessibility in the urban environment. The application phase for the Access City Award 2013 closed with 99 cities from 20 EU member states joining the competition. After a pre-selection at national level, a European Jury composed of experts in accessibility and representatives of the European Commission and the European Disability Forum selected one overall winner, two finalist "runners-up" and four special mentions. The two finalist "runners-up" are Nantes (France) and Stockholm (Sweden). The European Jury also decided to attribute special mentions in each of the four key areas of accessibility. These went to:

Pamplona (Spain) for the built environment and public spaces
Gdynia (Poland) for transport and related infrastructures
Bilbao (Spain) for information and communication, including new technologies Tallaght (Ireland) for public facilities and services
The award is given to the city that:

-has demonstrably improved accessibility in fundamental aspects of city living:
1. the built environment and public spaces;
2. transport and related infrastructure;
3. information and communication, including Information and Communication Technologies (ICT);
4. public facilities and services.
-is committed to continued improvements in accessibility in a sustainable way;
-can act as a role model and encourage the adoption of best practices in all other European cities.

For further information about the award please see: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/discrimination/disabilities/award/about-award/index_en.htm


  • Progressive policies in inclusive education have made positive changes in the lives of children with disabilities in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, according to UNICEF. More schools are welcoming first grade children with disabilities in Serbia as a result of years of policy advocacy. Huge nationwide awareness raising campaigns in Montenegro and strong engagement of civil society in promoting inclusion in Armenia have led to increased public demands for inclusive schools, UNICEF said. For further information please see:http://www.unicef.org/ceecis/media_21246.html
  • The School of Design at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University has recently designed a new aircraft lavatory especially for the blind by providing an organized system for reading Braille and other tactile information. This unconventional design is called BrailleWise®, which gives good indication to quickly find and use lavatories on planes. Once in a cabin lavatory, a visually impaired person can instantly feel the presence of the Braille beams at waist level. Running his/her fingers down the beam, a user can quickly locate a wanted function and can move around freely and independently with greater confidence without relying on a guide. For further information please go to: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130203145424.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fhealth_medicine%2Fdisability+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Health+%26+Medicine+News+--+Disability%29
  • People with disabilities are at a greater risk of being the victims of violence and of suffering mental ill health when victimized, according to research published February 20 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Hind Khalifeh and colleagues from University College London and King's College London. The authors found that, compared to those without any disability, the odds of being a victim of violence in the past year were three-fold higher for those with mental illness-related disability, and two-fold higher for those with physical disability. The odds were similarly raised for physical and sexual violence, and for domestic and nondomestic violence. Their analysis also revealed that victims with disability were twice as likely to experience emotional difficulties following violence than non-disabled victims. The study concludes, "Future research should evaluate the effectiveness of violence prevention programs in people with disability that address risk factors specific to this group, such as caregiver stress or communication barriers to disclosure." To read the full report please visit:
  • http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0055952


Nationwide help hotline for all female victims of violence in Germany On March 6, 2013 German Federal Family Minister Kristina Schroeder announced the start of a nationwide help hotline for all female victims of violence. The law on the establishment of this hotline service was passed by the German Parliament and entered into force on March 14, 2012.

The national hotline 08000 116 016 is fully accessible and can be reached round the clock to offer help to women who are affected by violence. The nationwide help phone is established at the Federal Office for Family and Civic Duties (BAFzA) in Cologne. In Germany, there is already a strong network of support facilities. However, in the past these offers did not reach all women affected by violence especially for women with disabilities who find it difficult to get help. Reasons for this were that there were less sign language interpreters or not all facilities were accessible for wheelchair users. The new help phone will close this gap. It is free of charge, anonymous, confidential, barrier-free and accessible and if required multilingual. Qualified advisors will offer first counseling and if necessary provide the caller with appropriate help offers for the individual case. A database of advice centers and women shelters are created nationwide.

According to the Minister’s report, an average of 17,000 women seek protection in the 350 German women shelters annually. Looking at the children of those affected, this number adds up to 30,000 to 34,000 people per year. In addition to the shelters there are more than 750 counseling centers that advise and support female victims of violence in Germany. This also includes about 130 intervention centers for female victims of domestic violence, 40 counseling centers for female victims of trafficking and other specific forms of violence, including forced marriage or stalking.

The establishment of a nationwide help hotline for female victims of violence is a good practice that should be replicated in other countries to address issues of violence against women.
For further information please visit: http://www.bmfsfj.de/BMFSFJ/gleichstellung,did=185464.html