From the 11th to 14th of December, Sumita Kunashakaran (Advocacy Executive) from the Disabled People’s Association hopped over the South China Sea to attend the ASEAN Disability Forum (ADF) conference and capacity building exercise in Manila together with our other ASEAN counterparts. The first couple of days (11th and 12th of December) consisted of a conference where participants had the opportunity to witness a beautiful opening ceremony presented by the choir from the Philippine National School for the Blind (PNSB), and an address by the Vice President of Philippines, Ms Maria Leonor Gerona Robredo herself. Ms Robredo spoke about how continued collaborations and the work that ASEAN does together has gone a long way in making Manila more inclusive for Persons-With-Disabilities (PWDs). However, she was also quick to highlight that the journey was still long from being over.
Following this, participants had gained interesting insights from a number of panel discussions on a range of topics from those relevant to the implementation of the CRPD in ASEAN, such as “Tackling various forms of discrimination and enhancing the engagement to PWDs in ASEAN communities and independent monitoring committees for ASEAN Decade and CRPD implementation”, and “The development tools of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the implementation of CRPF and the fulfilment of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”. There were also discussions surrounding the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which were more relevant to Singapore’s neighbours such as “End of poverty and hunger, and living healthy including access to clean water”, and “Build modern, proper system, for good living by technology, new ideas, cities for all, safer and inclusive” which aimed to tackle safety in implementation of infrastructural systems.
The Capacity Building Session on the 13th and 14th of December was even more engaging as we had the opportunity to analyse the Bali Declaration of 2011, and understand how the CRPD implementation could be further enhanced in our own home countries.
DPA was able to provide some useful insight into our own journey of developing the parallel report of the CRPD, and also managed to highlight some criteria that should be included in the Bali Declaration, such as accessibility in government web services.
The trip was definitely a fruitful one, and DPA looks forward to the next ASEAN meeting which will be held in our very own Singapore! We would also like to share our heartiest congratulations to Mr Lim Puay Tiak for his role as the new Chairman of the ASEAN Disability Forum, and we look forward to working with him on positioning Singapore as a leader of inclusivity in the region.