On May 23rd and 24th, the Embassy of Afghanistan was proud to host the “Afghan Disability Rights Conference: From Policy to Programming” in partnership with the U.S. International Council on Disabilities, the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, Georgetown University’s Center for Child and Human Development, Counterpart International, and Trivision. The conference was a follow-up to the National Conference for Persons with Disabilities in Afghanistan, held in October 2016 in Kabul.
The conference brought together 150 international and Afghan experts on disability rights and featured several prominent speakers, including Afghanistan’s Deputy Minister for Disability, Jamila Afghani, of the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled; a special video message from Her Excellency First Lady of Afghanistan Rula Ghani, and a keynote address from Judy Heumann, the former senior advisor on international disability rights under President Barack Obama and a longtime leader of the disability rights movement in America. U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (ret) delivered the lunchtime address and was introduced by Tim Shriver, the chairman of the Special Olympics.
The conference included panel discussions that focused on three priority issues: making education inclusive, making public health and vocational training relevant and helpful to all; and opening up employment opportunities. Each panel featured expert and experienced figures in the field, and produced lively, productive discussions that included questions from the audience.
Following the panel discussions, panelists, speakers and participants broke out into three roundtable discussions in which they discussed major the challenges within each focus area; participants came up with original ideas and solutions which were later presented to the entire gathering.
Day 2 of the conference involved smaller, knowledge-sharing workshops that featured experienced American experts working with Afghan delegation about the unique challenges faced by persons with disabilities, especially in the education, public health, and employment sector.
If you’d like to read the final report, click here.