Washington, D.C. – Special Olympics and Her Excellency President Joyce Banda of the Republic of Malawi are convening an African Leaders Forum on Disability to challenge the gross inequality and exclusion and the lower access to health, education, and employment faced by people with disabilities, especially those with intellectual disabilities. African government ministers, representatives of the world’s top development and aid organizations, Special Olympics athletes, sports celebrities, pop stars, and private sector representatives will attend this “Disability Davos” in Lilongwe, Malawi on Feb. 9 to 11
President Banda announced the Forum at the Clinton Global Initiative 2013 meeting. She has emerged as a champion for the rights of people with disabilities in Malawi, a small, democratic nation in Southeast Africa. Special Olympics is a global organization and grassroots movement for sports, health, education, and inclusion and is the largest organization in the world for people with intellectual disabilities.
People with disabilities, and in particular those with intellectual disabilities, face cultural and economic inequality and entrenched stigma. They are often denied human rights and inclusion in their communities, and experience more poverty and worse outcomes in terms of health, education, and employment compared to the general population.
The Malawian government and Special Olympics are establishing a coalition to advance the human rights of Africans with disabilities and create an inclusive development agenda for Africa. The Forum will build on the ever-growing awareness of the inequality and marginalization faced by people with disabilities, as indicated by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the 2011 “World Report on Disability” by the World Health Organization and World Bank, the 2012 UN Consultative Meeting of the African Disability Forum, and the 2013 UN High-level Meeting on Development Goals and Persons with Disabilities.
The African Leaders Forum on Disability is bringing together senior government and Special Olympics officials from 25-plus countries in Africa and leaders or senior representatives from organizations such as the African Union, USAID, UNICEF, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and Catholic Relief Services to agree on a concrete action plan for greater inclusion and better outcomes for people with disabilities in Africa. Forum partners in addition to the Republic of Malawi include the Golisano Foundation, Lions Club International, and UNICEF.