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STORY: World Leaders to Gather in Korea For Groundbreaking Global Development Summit

In January 2013, world leaders from government, business, education, economic and social development, media, and civil society will convene in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea, at the Special Olympics Global Development Summit on Ending the Cycle of Poverty and Exclusion for People with Intellectual Disabilities.

A First for People with Intellectual Disabilities

This summit, the first of its kind focusing solely on people with intellectual disabilities, will examine the urgent needs of the largest disability population throughout the world and will take place as part of the world’s largest sports and humanitarian event, Special Olympics World Winter Games PyeongChang 2013. The summit is scheduled for 30 January and will be co-hosted by Special Olympics and the Special Olympics World Winter Games Organizing Committee PyeongChang 2013.

According to the recently published World Report on Disability, a joint publication by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank, “Disability is also an important development issue with an increasing body of evidence showing that persons with disabilities experience worse socioeconomic outcomes and poverty than persons without disabilities” (xxi, WRD). In 2006, the United Nations established the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to change attitudes and approaches in order to improve the lives of people with disabilities. People with intellectual disabilities comprise the world’s largest disability population with an estimated 200 million people.

The Summit on Ending the Cycle of Poverty and Exclusion for People with Intellectual Disabilities will raise challenging questions about the scope and underlying nature of the obstacles that prevent people with intellectual disabilities from being included and accepted as part of the larger global development agenda, and will help provide a roadmap for how models of intervention can be created, modified and expanded to include people with intellectual disabilities. Persons with intellectual disabilities can be defined as having significant limitations in cognitive functioning and adaptive behavior that have onset by age 18 years. Intellectual disabilities can be either genetic or acquired (e.g., Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, traumatic brain injury).

Speakers and high level participants of the Global Development Summit

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, MP -- Chairperson, National League for Democracy, Burma (Myanmar) 

The Most Honorable Kim Hwang-sik, Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea

Her Excellency Joyce Banda, President of Malawi

The Most Honorable Portia Simpson Miller, Prime Minister of Jamaica

The Most Honorable Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh

The Honorable Bekele Geleta, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Senator and Vice Minister Jan McLucas, Government of Australia

The Honorable Wilfried Lemke, Special Envoy, the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace

What Does "Equality" Mean to You?

Special Olympics encourages discussions about equality and inclusion and is calling on people around the world to define what “equality” means to them. 

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, MP, National League for Democracy

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, MP is one of the founding members and current Chairperson of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Burma (Myanmar). In 2012, she was elected to Parliament, representing the NLD. One of the world’s most renowned human rights activists, she has dedicated much of her life to bringing democracy, dignity and human rights to the citizens of Burma. She spent decades under house arrest, before finally being freed in 2010. Citing her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded Daw Aung San Suu Kyi the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. In addition, she has received more than 120 awards and honors from all over the world, including the Sakharov Freedom of Thought award from the European Parliament (1991), the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding by the Government of India (1993), the Companion of the Order of Australia by the Australian Government (1996), and the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal (2008), which was presented to her before Congress during her U.S. tour in 2012. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi holds degrees from the University of Delhi, St. Hugh’s College (Oxford), and the University of London.

HE Joyce Banda, President, Malawi

HE Joyce Banda is the President of the Republic of Malawi. In April 2012, she took office as the country’s first female president after serving as Vice President from May 2009 to April 2012. Her foundation, the Joyce Banda Foundation, provides integrated rural development services to over 250,000 beneficiaries. Areas of focus for the Joyce Banda Foundation include: free secondary school for orphans, early childhood development and orphan care, youth development, food and income security, safe motherhood, water and sanitation, women’s leadership, and economic development for women. A leader in grassroots women’s rights activism, President Banda is the founding member of three women’s rights international organizations, the African Federation of Women Entrepreneurs (ADWE), the Council for Economic Empowerment of Women in Africa (CEEWA), and the Americans and Africans Business Women’s Alliance (AABWA). President Banda is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Leadership from Royal Roads University. She has her Bachelors of Science Degree in Gender Studies from Atlantic International University.

Bekele Geleta, Secretary General, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Bekele Geleta is the Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Bekele’s involvement with these organizations began when he served as Secretary General of the Ethiopian Red Cross from 1984 through 1988. Under his leadership, the organization improved its operational efficiency and was able to help significantly more people affected by drought - increasing the number from 100,000 to one million. From 1974 to 1977, he worked as General Manager of the Franco-Ethiopian Railway Company. From 1978 to 1982, he was held as a political prisoner in Ethiopia. After his release, he has held a number of different positions including; Urban Development Officer for Irish Concern International, Vice Minister of Transport and Communications, Ambassador of Ethiopia to Japan, Programme Manager, Care International in Kenya and finally with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Here he served as head of the Africa Department, head of the Regional Delegation for South-East Asia, Bangkok, General Manager, International Operations, Canadian Red Cross, Ottawa, and since 2008, Secretary-General. Mr. Bekele holds a Masters in Economics from Leeds University and a Bachelors in Politics and Economics from Addis Ababa University.

Michael Elliott, President and CEO, ONE

Michael Elliott is the President and Chief Executive Officer of ONE, an international non-profit organization fighting to alleviate poverty and promote healthcare and education. Prior to joining ONE, Elliott served as editor of TIME International, Deputy Managing Editor of TIME Magazine, and also as a columnist on the global economy for Fortune magazine. He joined TIME in May 2001 as an editor-at-large after a year spent as editor-in-chief of eCountries, an Internet-based news and analysis service on global affairs. He was named editor of TIME International in April 2005 after serving as editor of TIME Asia. From 1995-2000 Elliott was editor of Newsweek International, and from 1984-93 he was on the staff of The Economist, where he was political editor and Washington bureau chief. Elliott was born and raised in the suburbs of Liverpool, England, and took two degrees at Oxford University. Prior to his career in journalism, he was a member of the Central Policy Review Staff in Britain’s Cabinet Office, and before that spent eight years teaching in universities in the United States and United Kingdom. He ended his academic career with a tenured position at the London School of Economics.

Cindy McCain, Philanthropist and Chair, Hensley & Co.

Cindy Hensley McCain has dedicated her life to improving the lives of those less fortunate both in the United States and around the world. As a member of the Board of Trustees for the HALO Trust, a non-profit organization dedicated to landmine removal and weapons destruction in war-torn countries, Cindy is dedicated to the worldwide removal of landmines. Cindy also served on the Board of Directors for Operation Smile, a non-profit organization whose mission is to repair cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities for children around the world. Cindy is a founding member of the Eastern Congo Initiative. She’s travelled to the region four times in the last two years and is committed to raising awareness on the travesties facing women and children in the Congo. She holds an undergraduate degree in Education and a Master's in Special Education from USC and is a member of the USC Rossier School of Education Board of Councilors. Cindy is the chairman of her family’s business, Hensley & Company, which is one of the largest Anheuser-Busch distributors in the nation. Cindy resides in Phoenix with her husband, U.S. Senator John McCain. Together, they have four children.

Cherie Blair, Founder, Cherie Blair Foundation

Wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, leading lawyer and committed campaigner for women’s rights, Cherie set up the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women in 2008 to help women build small and growing businesses in Africa, South Asia and the Middle East so that they can contribute to their economies and have a stronger voice in their societies. As well as fighting for human rights in her professional career, Cherie is an active campaigner on equality and human rights issues. In addition to founding her own charity, she remains closely involved with charities with a special emphasis on women and children. Cherie studied law at the London School of Economic. She became a Queen’s Counsel in 1995 and in 2000 co-founded Matrix Chambers from which she continues to practice as a barrister. Cherie currently also sits as a Recorder, as part-time judges are known, and is an accredited mediator. In 2007, she was awarded the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill medal in recognition of her high ideals and courageous actions. Cherie also holds Honorary Degrees at the Open University and Liverpool Hope University.

Hon. Jan McLucas, Senator and Vice Minister, Australia

Born and raised in Far North Queensland, Australia, Senator the Hon Jan McLucas began her career as a school teacher.  She enjoyed a 10 year primary school teaching career, working mainly in North Queensland and continues to have a strong interest in education, especially the education of Indigenous Australian children and children living in rural and remote areas.

Senator McLucas was elected as a Councillor in the city of Cairns in 1995 and was then elected to the Australian Senate, representing the state of Queensland, in 1998.

She has held a number of parliamentary positions, including Shadow Minister for Ageing, Disabilities and Carers and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and Ageing.

In September 2010, Senator McLucas was appointed the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers.

Working closely with Australian Minister for Disability Reform, the Hon Jenny Macklin MP, she is continuing to deliver the Australian Government's reform agenda to improve the lives of people with disability, promote participation and create a more inclusive society. This includes the establishment of a historic National Disability Insurance Scheme, which will provide long term, high quality support for people who have a permanent disability that significantly affects their communication, mobility, self-care or self-management.

Having developed strong connections in local government and regional communities, Senator McLucas is also working closely with the Minister for Regional Australia, the Hon Simon Crean MP, to deliver equitable access to services and infrastructure for regional, rural and remote Queenslanders.

In March 2012, Senator McLucas was also appointed the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister.