Young Voices: My visit to New York

18 June 2014

Kartik Sawhney, Young Voices campaigner from India (pictured below left, with Young Voices campaigner Tongai from Zimbabwe) tells us about his experience at the United Nations.

Kartik on the left and Young Voices campaigner Tongai on the right, sitting behind a conference table

Last week I went to New York along with five other Young Voices campaigners for the Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Our visit was sponsored by UNICEF, who organised several workshop sessions and meetings for us while we were there.

It was an amazing opportunity to meet several youth activists from across the world, and learn from their experiences and ideas. One of the most memorable events of the trip was meeting with the permanent representative of India to the UN, Mr Asoke K. Banerjee. I spoke to him about the importance of including disability in the post-2015 development agenda. We also discussed India’s stance on the CRPD.

I got to meet many other interesting people, including the CEO of UNICEF. I also met disability rights activists from around the world working with UNICEF and the UN, and representatives from several disabled people’s organisations. We discussed advocacy strategies within our own countries, and talked about the post-2015 development agenda and disability.

The conference brought together representatives from all countries that have ratified the CRPD. My main message to them is to implement it in its true spirit. Merely amending laws to make them consistent with the CRPD, or introducing schemes on paper, is not the way to go. Instead, ensuring all the policies in the country reflect the understanding and spirit of the convention is what can truly empower persons with disabilities to participate in the society on an equal basis.

You can watch Kartik and Young Voices campaigners Ashura from Kenya and Tongai from Zimbabwe talking at a UNICEF Activate session on ‘Youth with Disabilities and Innovation: Making the World Inclusive for All.’

You can also view Ashura and Leonard Cheshire Disability chief executive Clare Pelham speaking at a panel session on youth with disabilities during the Conference (from 1 hour 44 mins).

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