African Leaders Gather to Act on Disability

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Malawi is one of 14 worldwide pilots for the Special Olympics Healthy Communities initiative, creating a year-round community-based approach to health for people with intellectual disabilities. Health Communities works to decrease health disparities and improve health for people with intellectual disabilities. Photo by Kristin Hughes

Special Olympics and Her Excellency President Joyce Banda of the Republic of Malawi are convening an African Leaders Forum on Disability in Lilongwe, Malawi on February 9 to 11. Leaders along with other doers and shakers from government, disability organizations, development agencies, the private sector, and civil society are meeting 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. 

Because the Forum will gather African government ministers, representatives of the world’s top aid agencies, Special Olympics athletes, sports celebrities, pop stars, and private sector executives, it is akin to a “Disability Davos,” a reference to the recently concluded annual Alpine meeting of luminaries who gather to improve the world and shape global agendas. 

The Forum will establish a coalition of leaders who are committed to addressing the inequality and marginalization faced by people with intellectual disabilities with a concrete action plan. Some of the organizations that are attending are the African Union, USAID, UNICEF, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and Catholic Relief Services. Forum partners in addition to the Republic of Malawi include the Golisano Foundation, Lions Club International, and UNICEF.

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