His Excellency the President of the Fiji islands, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau challenged pacific island leaders to listen to the voices of everyone including persons with disabilities in their duty as leaders on development issues.
Speaking at the opening of the Conference of Parliamentarians on International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Ratu Epeli said although much has been accomplished more can still be done to address key ICPD efforts like adolescent sexual reproductive health (ASRH), elimination of gender-based violence (GBV), and more support for family planning.
Pacific Disability Forum Program manager, Mr. Katabwena Tawaka who is also attending the conference said in many development frameworks the rights of persons with disabilities have been forgotten so it is important that this is not repeated going into the future.
“The UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities is present to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities and to promote respect for their inherent dignity which was mentioned by his Excellency today”
Mr. Tawaka went on to say that states had a responsibility to ensure persons with disabilities are able to access facilities including information that relate to sexual reproductive health.
“ It is important that when regional governments and development partners talk of development for all, that this really means all, including persons with disabilities because the challenges we face are cross cutting, issues like accessibility, health, habilitation and rehabilitation all link to the ICPD efforts so to achieve ICPD goals, these must also be addressed,” he added.
The conference brings together parliamentarians from fourteen pacific island states, AUSAID, PDF and other regional and international development partners.
At the end of the conference is it expected that there will be a reinvigorated platform for national parliamentary advocacy for population & development issues, a comprehensive plan for advocacy in ICPD beyond 2014 in the post 2015 agenda and a clear roadmap for the future advocacy engagement of pacific MP’s. Finally it expects to have a loud and clear pacific voice on regional issues at the global level.