Patrick Costello TD wrote to Minister Simon Coveney and Minister Ann Rabbitte in their capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Disabilities respectively. I highlighted the need for Ireland to appoint a female in the interests of gender balance on the UN disability committee.
Find the full text of the letter below:
I am writing to you in my capacity as T.D. for Dublin South Central and as a supporter of Sightsavers Ireland’s Equal World campaign, which is calling for gender equality and diversity on the UN disability committee. Sightsavers Ireland works to combat avoidable blindness and promote equal opportunities for people with disabilities in some of the world’s poorest countries. I am writing to you to request that Ireland casts its votes in December to ensure that women, people with diverse disability types and people from low-and middle-income countries are fairly represented.
In 2018, Ireland ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and in December 2020 it will have its first vote in the elections for members of the committee that oversees this treaty. The elections will take place at the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD in New York, and Sightsavers Ireland is calling for votes in the election to improve the diversity and gender balance on the committee.
The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced inequality and deepened exclusion of people with disabilities, 80% of whom live in developing countries and already face huge challenges in terms of access to health, education, work and other human rights. Women and girls with disabilities have been particularly affected by increased rates of violence and abuse. As a result, this year’s election for the UN disability committee is more important than ever.
Sightsavers successfully campaigned in the previous CRPD election for more women to be elected, resulting in an increase from one woman to six on the committee. But as the committee has 18 members in total, there is still some way to go before there is gender parity. There is also some way to go before the committee is truly representative of people from low and middle income countries and people with different types of disability (for example, there is currently only one member who has an intellectual disability).
The thirteenth session of the Conference of the States parties to the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities is due to take place in New York on the second week of December 2020. As such I am requesting that Ireland casts its votes in December to ensure that women, people with diverse disability types and people from low-and middle-income countries are fairly represented.
Is mise le meas,
Patrick Costello TD