DISABLED. DISPLACED. DETERMINED.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Noon - 2:00 p.m. | Reception at 11:30 a.m.
Cipriani 42nd Street, 110 East 42nd Street, New York City
Each year, the Women's Refugee Commission honors leaders who are working on behalf of refugee, internally displaced, migrant and resettled women and young people.
At the 2013 Voices of Courage Awards Luncheon on May 2, we will honor two refugee women who are developing or leading programs that benefit refugee and displaced persons with disabilities. We will also honor the Government of Australia for its international leadership, both in policy and practice, supporting initiatives that develop the capacity of persons with disabilities to lead full lives and make meaningful contributions to their communities. AusAID, Australia’s overseas aid program, has been at the forefront of championing disability-inclusive development and humanitarian work.
Displaced persons with disabilities are among the most vulnerable populations anywhere, facing the challenges of both disability and displacement. They are often invisible, unable to leave their shelters or navigate their community. Many are unable to access humanitarian aid programs because of physical and social barriers or because of negative attitudes and biases.
The Women’s Refugee Commission is at the forefront of organizations working to change this. We are committed to advancing the rights and dignity of refugees and displaced persons with disabilities. People like Soe Meh, whom we met at a workshop to promote equal treatment and full access of people with disabilities (see box). We promote their voices and participation in all our activities, bridging the gap between this group and those dedicated to carrying out assistance programs.
Soe Meh lives in a refugee camp in Thailand. She has a physical impairment and uses crutches to walk. It is difficult for Soe Meh to collect food supplies because the distribution point is far away, and the containers are difficult to carry while on crutches. But she has learned to cope and found support. "I really, really appreciate this workshop, because I had no one to meet and talk to—no chance like this. So I am very happy to be here to today."
Through research, advocacy and training—such as the workshop for people like Soe Meh—we are working with the UN refugee agency and its partners across the world to enhance programs that promote the rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities. Our goal is to enable them to live full lives and make meaningful contributions to their communities.
Our 2013 Voices of Courage Awards luncheon will spotlight this critical issue, and celebrate the tremendous skills, capacities and courage of persons with disabilities.
We will also have a special tribute to Catherine O’Neill, Founding Chair of the Women's Refugee Commission. In 1989, her vision and passion led to the founding of the Women's Refugee Commission. Millions of refugee women and children around the world have Catherine to thank for improvements in programming and policy that have come about due to the work of the organization she founded.