Empower Us at the Conference of State Parties (COSP)

In June members of the Empower Us team were at the Conference of State Parties (COSP) at the United Nations in New York.


The self-advocate team from Inclusion International were:

  • Kory from People First Canada,

  • Tia from SABE, USA,

  • Jaime from SPSD, Peru,

  • Jayne from KAIH, Kenya,

  • Luis Gabriel from Asdown Colombia

  • and Chaica from UAE

The topics that the team spoke about in their sessions included

  • Political participation,

  • Social inclusion and health

  • Inclusion through sports, leisure and culture

  • Deinstitutionalisation

  • Inclusion through technology

  • Inclusion of women with disabilities

Below Tia and Luis Gabriel share some of their experiences of the Conference of State Parties (COSP).

What did you speak about at Conference of State Parties (COSP)?

Tia - I spoke about deinstitionalization and how people need to live in the community. I said that people need to have other people who use to live in an institution and now live in the community talk to them about what the community is like. The people in institutions should also have a chance to see what it is like in the community so they can make an informed choice about their future. I shared some of the work SABE and People First of Illinois have done around this.


Next, I spoke about technology for people with disabilities. SABE has two books to help people to learn how to set up things like email, Facebook hangout and more with pictures and step by step and screen shots. I talked about how it helps me with work and other things and how it helps my friends. I also talked about some of the bad things with technology, like when it breaks down or if it costs too much.

My last speech was on women’s rights. I talked about how many women with intellectual disabilities are not included because the women’s rights movements don’t think about us. We need the chance to talk about our rights as a woman with and without a disability. Sometimes we are not included because other people don’t know how to included us and other times they don’t want to, because people need support and it takes time. 


Luis Gabriel -  In general during the Conference of State Parties (COSP) we all talked about the projects, the experiences and the strategies from organisations all around the world on fully including people with disabilities in different social and public scenarios through the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). We also talked about the challenges in achieving the proposed goals. 

I took part in two side sessions and a main Conference of State Parties (COSP) session.

On the first day during the Civil Society Forum, Kory and I talked about political participation of people with disabilities in their communities. I spoke about the right to vote in Colombia. Later that day, I moderated an interactive session on protecting the rights of children with disabilities.

At the last day of the Conference of State Parties (COSP) I gave the closing session speech on behalf of Inclusion International and the Civil Society. I spoke about the achievements, practices and challenges around the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities through the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  

What were some of the things you learned during Conference of State Parties (COSP)?

Tia - I learned about emergency disaster cards to help people learn about what to do before a disaster happens. It had picture and lists and was easy to read.


I heard that more people with disabilities should work for governments in many different roles with supports and this will help make the work governments do more inclusive.

Countries still need to work on things to make the Convention happen for all people so that we all have our rights.

They have something new out there called mobile money where you can get money and receive money from anywhere. But if you don’t have smart phones I pads or internet it doesn’t work.

Sexuality was talked about in Belgium and how they are supporting people with that in a good way. Some places now have a disability pride day, which I think is a good idea. 

Luis Gabriel - We learnt about several topics such as technologies for inclusive education, accessibility to information, accessible voting training, legal capacity, law reforms against discrimination and deinstitutionalization, improving the life quality through adequate medical services, public and political participation, and public and sport, cultural and leisure activities as the way for inclusion.

 What were some highlights of the Conference of State Parties (COSP) for you?


Tia - The whole experience was wonderful. I met people from different countries and learned what others were doing in their country around Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

I had a chance to meet and talk with many women with disabilities. We all agreed to meet and talk about setting up a new global women with disabilities rights movement. We will talk and listen to women all over the world. We will help support each other, share ideas and make exciting things happen. I had the idea of having Empower Us women talk about what we could do as women with intellectual disabilities to help and start our own activities and share with the larger group. I am going to talk to my friends on Empower Us to help me start working on this.


 Luis Gabriel - For me a highlight was hearing from our Inclusion International President Sue’s intervention during the opening session plenary. Sue talked about the importance of including people with an intellectual disability in all aspects of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the importance of supporting self-advocacy and the work of families.

Another highlight for me was hearing from Chaica and Jaime during the Sport and Leisure round table.

It was great to be part of the Inclusive Strategy for People with Disabilities’ launch during the Delegates’ Dinner. I also very much enjoyed meeting with our respective regional delegates and sharing our Empower Us work with other organisations.

For more information about our Empower Us team or about training that we can give on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) for self-advocates get in touch - empowerus@inclusion-international.org