As the nation and the world at large commemorate The International Day for Persons with Disability, we had a privilege of interviewing Peter Bare who is the Senior Programme Manager for Sightsavers Zimbabwe. Sightsavers globally and in Zimbabwe for a couple of months has been running what they call Equal World Campaign under the hashtag #EqualUN. Sightsavers with the support of campaigners in Zimbabwe around the world, Sightsavers calls for the rights of people with disabilities to be upheld, in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The following is an exclusive interview with Peter Bare Senior Programmes Manager Sightsavers.
REPORTER: What is the Equal World campaign?
PETER BARE: Sightsavers supports equal opportunities for people with visual impairment and other disabilities. Our Equal World campaign fights for the rights of people with disabilities to go to school, find a job and take part fully in society. We want the international community to make sure that global development is inclusive of people with disabilities at every level of decision-making, and in every area of life.
REPORTER: Why is your campaign, this campaign needed?
PETER BARE: Around the world, there are one billion people with disabilities. Of these one billion people, 800 million live in low and middle income countries, and more than half are women. In many countries, people with disabilities face stigma and discrimination on a daily basis and are denied basic human rights. The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced inequality and deepened exclusion of people with disabilities globally, particularly women and girls, 80% of whom live in developing countries and already face huge challenges in terms of access to health, education, work and other human rights.
REPORTER : What is Sightsavers and other disability organisations calling for?
PETER BARE: Representation of people with disabilities, especially women, in COVID-19 response and recovery is absolutely vital if people with disabilities are to be included and not be left behind. This representation relates to every level of decision making whether that’s locally, nationally or globally. With regard to the global, the Equal World campaign- through our Equal UN campaign- has been calling on the 180 countries that have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability to use their votes in the CRPD committee election to elect nine new members to ensure that women, people with diverse impairment types and people from low and middle income countries are fairly represented.
REPORTER: Why is diverse representation on the CRPD Committee so important to persons with disability and to Sightsavers in particular?
PETER BARE: It is essential that the committee can properly review and address the issues facing all people with disabilities, giving due regard to gender inequality, people living in extreme poverty and people with different types of disability. Right now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, these rights are more under threat than ever. As a result, this year’s elections to the UN Disability Committee are more important than ever.
REPORTER: Was our campaign successful? What were this year’s results?
PETER BARE: Oh Yes! On Monday 30 November, 5 women were elected to the committee with the opportunity for another woman to be elected in the final round of the election this week. With 6 women already on the committee, the election of 5 women has achieved a historic majority of women on the committee for the very first time. There is still a need for better representation of impairment, and more members from low income countries. But we’re thrilled to have finally reached the goal of gender parity on the committee.