Malawi Pres Banda calls for equal opportunities for disabled: Impresses at South Korea conference

Malawi President Joyce Banda on Wednesday at the Special Olympics in South Korea took the centre stage to answer questions from journalists on what the third world is doing to improve lives of people with intellectual and physical disabilities.

Banda is the only African Head of State who has been invited to the Special Olympics in South Korea, because of her time and dedication to making a difference in people’s lives.

Among those taking part in the Global Development Summit were Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader from Myanmar and a former Nobel Peace Prize winner; Timothy Shriver, the chairman of Special Olympics International, the governing body of the Special Olympics Games; and Na Kyung-won, the head of the organizing committee for the PyeongChang World Winter Games.

The Malawi leader reiterated that her government’s will and commitment will help in the fighting against stigma that people with intellectual and physical disability face.

President Banda pose with some of the intellectually disabled people after conference

President Banda pose with some of the intellectually disabled people after conference

Speaking at a news conference in PyeongChang, South Korea, President Banda said she believes that political will can help overcome challenges faced by the disabled.“Fight and ending stigma starts with us leaders, if we are dedicated to ending stigma, I believe that we will make a better world for people with intellectual disabilities,” said Banda

Banda explained to the visibly impressed audience that since coming into power, her government passed the disability bill that enables persons with disability to ascertain and enforce their rights.

“My government since taking over in April last year made sure that the disability bill is passed in parliament. The bill was outstanding as it had been drafted years ago, I made it a point when I took over to see that it is passed and that people with disabilities enjoy their right,” said Banda amid applause from the audience.

Banda explained to the audience that if problems facing people with intellectual and physical disabilities are to end, there is need to engage them as they are better positioned to know what needs to be done for them.

“In my country, I try to include people with disabilities in discussions that affect them because this is the only way I know that the problems will be solved,” she said, adding that with support from concerted efforts, stigma and the many problems facing people with intellectual disabilities will end.

At the end of the conference, the leaders issued the PyeongChang Declaration which laid out 11 points for the international community to follow.

The PyeongChang Declaration called for more access for people with intellectual disabilities to health care services, education and employment opportunities.

In a video message played at the start of the Global Development Summit, Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general of the U.N., said he welcomes the PyeongChang Declaration, “which will highlight the Special Olympics’ role in advancing the Millennium Development Goals” by the U.N.

Ban also said he hoped the summit and the leaders’ joint declaration will help the U.N. prepare for a high-level meeting on the rights of the disabled in September.

President Banda addressing the gathering

President Banda addressing the gathering

Timothy Shriver, Suu Kyi, Malawi President Joyce Banda and Na Kyung - Won

Timothy Shriver, Suu Kyi, Malawi President Joyce Banda and Na Kyung – Won

President Banda taking part in a panel discussion

President Banda taking part in a panel discussion

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