Today, 3rd December marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which is observed annually since 1992. The day is commemorated to raise awareness, understanding and acceptance of persons with disabilities, and promote a society of inclusivity. ARC believes that children with disabilities are important agents of change and pledges on their behalf, to continue to work towards eliminating stereotypes to ensure a better and healthy future for them. It is important to also renew efforts to combat the stigma and marginalization of persons with disabilities, so that every child has the opportunity to learn, play and grow in a free and fair society.
While welcoming recent efforts to promote and protect the rights of children with disabilities in the Maldives, ARC calls upon the Government to submit its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, overdue since 2012. ARC would also like to call upon the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives to release the report of the National Inquiry on Access to Education for Children with Disabilities conducted in 2014. Furthermore, ARC also calls upon the Maldives to consider ratifying the Optional Protocol to CRPD, a communications procedure to the Convention that helps persons with disabilities to appeal to the Committee when states fail to promote and protect their rights.
To contribute to this year’s theme, “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all”, the Child Advocacy Network of Disability Organizations (CAN DO) has various programmes planned to span out through the year, including trainings for teachers and health professionals as well as mini documentaries and video clips designed to raise awareness among the public about the life of children with disabilities and the challenges they face. Children with disabilities are one of the most vulnerable groups in the society and CAN DO’s goal is to remove existing stereotypes to pave way for the full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by children with disabilities, and ensure their effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
Advocating the Right of Children (ARC) launched the Child Advocacy Network of Disability Organizations (CAN DO) in March 2014 with an aim to work with all stakeholders to address the challenges faced by the children with disability in the society. Founding members of CAN DO include Advocating the Rights of Children (ARC), Association for Disability and Development (ADD), Beautiful Eyes Down Syndrome Association of Maldives, Blind and Visually Impaired Association of Maldives, Care Society, Maldives Autism Association, Maldives Deaf Association (MDA) and Maldives Association of Physical Disables (MAPD).