Henrietta Davis-Wray

Chairperson, DPI

We, at DPI, are a family of persons with disabilities who come from all over the world with diverse backgrounds. The largest global grassroots organization of persons with disabilities, DPI is a family of disabled women and men, persons with all types of disabilities from both Global North and Global South, persons with disabilities from developed and developing countries, persons with disabilities from high, middle, and low income communities.

And, like any other family, whether personal or rather collective, DPI has enjoyed moments of great victories and successes but, at the same time has also endured moments of grief, mourning, and sorrow. We pledge to continue to remain a strong family who learns from its past in order to build better for its future.

The DPI family stands in solidarity to ensure that DPI would never lose its position as a global and leading organization of ALL persons with disabilities. The world has witnessed how our beloved organization since its outset, which is exactly four decades ago, has truly inspired many others, whether individuals or organizations, on many levels, and for many missions.

Since its outset in 1981, DPI has vowed to lead our global disability community towards ensuring that every single person with disability must, and would, enjoy his or her rights as a full citizen in this world and in every single country. And, ever since, DPI has invented, owned, and carried, that slogan of honor and dignity, “Nothing About Us, Without Us”.

Over the years, DPI has been striving, alongside with its partners, friends, associates, to ensure full respect, full recognition, and full inclusion of all persons with disabilities by their country governments, and within their communities.

Most importantly, from the very beginning, DPI has whole heartedly recognized in its agenda the necessity of enhancing its grassroots operations. It has sincerely believed that no inclusion can be achieved without ensuring the true representation of grassroots groups of persons with disabilities. However, to reach that goal, tremendous work ought to be done and a clear mandate ought to be commissioned. With sincere determination and strong efforts, DPI, therefore, set forth its priorities for establishing and promoting persons with disabilities’ right to full inclusion and equal access to opportunities of empowerment, leadership, and participation. And, the four decades of collective efforts and hard work of DPI members in Africa (with both the French and English Sub-regions), Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Northern America and the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, and Central Asia have indeed borne its fruits.

Our organization has shown the world, the model of real commitment and pioneering recognition of equality between our fellow women and men with disabilities. With its persistence in maintaining the practice of gender balance, our sisters with disabilities have found a space of respect, recognition, and most importantly leadership. With consecutive elections of women with disabilities to the position of Global Chair and Board Members, our beloved organization has proven to the world the tremendous capability of leadership. It is indeed, when DPI was leading, alongside with other partnering organizations of persons with disabilities, DPI was headed by a woman with disability (Mrs. Venus Ilagan). Today, the top three positions of Global Chair as well as the two Vice Chairs are occupied by women with disabilities from different regions across the world. Many grassroots organizations of persons with disabilities around the world and among DPI members are headed by active women with disabilities, who have been actively leading their communities through different platforms of decision-making and full participation.

The second and rather equally important achievements has been the adoption of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by the United Nations General Assembly in 2006, and the first recognition ever of persons with disabilities in the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These achievements were never to be recognized today without the continuous and collective efforts of DPI and its partners of other international, regional, and national organizations of persons with disabilities alongside development organizations working in the field of promoting the rights of persons with disabilities to inclusion and accessibility.

Because of these achievements our fellow women and men with disabilities, particularly of the Global South, can feel rather empowered against experiences of poverty and exclusion. Because of these achievements, our fellow women and men with disabilities, today, have the tools to confidently hold their governments and policy-makers accountable towards ensuring their inclusion in their countries’ programs of social and economic development.

Today, with both the CRPD and SDGs, persons with disabilities of all types and diversities can rest assured that they have the ability to hold the whole world accountable for recognizing their equal rights to inclusive education, enter the mainstream labor market, and enjoy full access to mainstream community based health care and rehabilitation services.

Since December 2019, the whole world is witnessing an unprecedented pandemic of COVID-19, we need to recognize the ongoing struggle of our fellow brothers and sisters with disabilities during this most difficult time. This pandemic has, indeed, shown us, that despite all achievements, persons with disabilities, particularly in the Global South, continue to endure the perpetual practices of stigma, discrimination, and exclusion. The neglect of persons with disabilities’ needs and conditions by COVID-19 response efforts speaks to the fact that the journey towards ensuring persons with disabilities’ full inclusion and dignity is still a long way ahead of us. This pandemic has shown us that unlike any time before, working in unity is a must to ensure our victory in our battle against any form of neglect and discrimination experienced by persons with disabilities worldwide. The world needs to work towards ‘Building Back Better an ALL inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 world’!

Therefore, DPI’s serious and sincere effort towards unification and bringing its family together again is so timely. It is about time that DPI should come together again as ONE strong organization in order to maintain its legacy and leadership position within the global disability movement.

It is about time for DPI to come together again as one organization, whose unity can enhance and empower efforts of partnership and collaboration among ALL organizations of persons with disabilities and on all levels, nationally, regionally, and internationally.

It is about time, brothers and sisters, to come again as ONE family to maintain our goal of ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’, and in order to make ‘Leaving No One Behind’ real, once, and for all.

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