Experts in disability and global development to gather in Halifax June 22 to 24, 2015

From Monday, June 22 to Wednesday, June 24, 2015 researchers, practitioners, activists and policy makers in disability and global development will gather in Halifax towards (re)building inclusive societies, particularly in post-conflict and post-disasters situations.

People with disabilities make up approximately 1 billion of the world’s population, live with significant levels of poverty and live primarily in countries of the global South (WHO 2011). Women are the majority of disabled people, and there are roughly 100 million children with disabilities. Addressing global development requires ensuring the inclusion of people with disabilities.
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“Women, men, girls and boys with disabilities must be fully engaged in rebuilding societies after conflicts and disasters. As partners from the global North, we have a responsibility to ensure that our development assistance does not recreate barriers in public buildings like schools or hospitals or for those accessing essential supports and services,” said Deborah Stienstra, Nancy’s Chair in Women’s Studies, Mount Saint Vincent University and conference organizer.

Rebuilding Haiti
The number of people with disabilities in Haiti increased dramatically in January 2010 when a catastrophic earthquake hit that country. However, despite good intentions and a few noble attempts, research suggests that the international community often did not consult existing Haitian government and civil society organizations (including those representing people with disabilities) in planning and carrying out their responses to the disaster.

Despite this, and using international human rights agreements, Haitians with disabilities and their allies have been able to insert the perspectives of people with disabilities into reconstruction efforts and help create more effective public policy that is inclusive of people with disabilities. Though significant challenges remain, especially for the poorest people with complex needs, Haitians with disabilities and their allies can provide a model for other post-disaster efforts around the world.

Presenters from around the globe
On the basis of three cases studies (Haiti, Uganda and South Africa) and with a focus on the themes of gender and childhood, as well as connections to Canada’s foreign and development policy, conference participants will examine how times of transition and change following conflict and disasters offer important opportunities to rebuild more inclusive societies, including for people with disabilities. Titled (Re)building Inclusive Societies: Critical Reflections on Disability and Global Development, the event marks the start of a broader collaboration between the Alexa McDonough Institute for Women, Gender and Social Justice (AMI) at Mount Saint Vincent University and the Children and Youth in Challenging Contexts Institute (CYCCI) at Dalhousie University.

Conference presenters include representatives from: The World Bank, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, Rehabilitation International (New York), Feinstein International Center (Tufts University), Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre (University College London), Coady International Institute (St. Francis Xavier University), Université d’État d’HaÏti, University of Ottawa, Dalhousie University, and Mount Saint Vincent University.

The following conference events are wheelchair accessible and open to the public (all are free of charge); sign language interpretation and real-time captioning will be available:

Monday, June 22, 2015, 7 pm
Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo, the Global Disability Advisor for the World Bank Group, with comments from partners from Haiti, Uganda and South Africa
Location: Multipurpose Room, third floor in the Rosaria Student Centre, Mount Saint Vincent University, 166 Bedford Highway [map]

An RSVP is requested.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015, 7 pm
Panel: “Locating Disability in the New Politics of Global Development”
Location: Atrium of LeMarchant Place at Dalhousie University (1246 LeMarchant Street)

Panelists include: Paula Donovan (AIDS Free World), Mathieu Simard (Rehabilitation International), Steven Estey (Council of Canadians with Disabilities), Nora Groce (Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre)

An RSVP is requested.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015, 9 am to 4 pm
Full day: Sessions with a focus on making connections between disability and Canada’s foreign and development policy
Location: Rooms 105-106, Margaret Norrie McCain Centre for Teaching, Learning and Research, Mount Saint Vincent University

Sessions include:

– Canada’s Responses to Disability and Global Development

– Women with Disabilities and Maternal Health: Where Do We Fit in Canada’s Policies

– Children and Youth with Disabilities: How Do We Fit in Canada’s Policies?

– Using the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and Other Tools to Bring People with Disabilities into Canada’s Development Policies

To register:

The project is funded by the International Development Research Centre, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Mount Saint Vincent University and Dalhousie University.

Please direct conference questions

Media interested in attending conference events or interviewing presenters are asked to contact:
Gillian Batten
Manager, Communications
Mount Saint Vincent University
(902) 457-6439