The first day was opened by the Prime Minister of Guyana. Mark Phillips and the US Ambassador to Guyana, Her Excellency Sarah Ann Lynch. Both expressed their support for the conference and further pointed out the need to include persons with disabilities in all aspects of society. They found that when equal access was given to all, societies would benefit from the potential, talent, and productivity of all citizens.
The event also featured a presentation by former Barbados Senate Speaker and opposition leader Karian Ifil. Congressman Aubrey Norton, Congressman Jermaine Figueira, Virginia Atkinson, IFES Senior Global Advisor for Inclusion, and Lasanti Daxon, Deputy Director, IFES Sri Lanka/Bangladesh. All speakers outlined the need for people with disabilities to participate meaningfully in all aspects of life.
The two-day conference exposed young people with disabilities to the media, other government officials, political representatives and several members of Guyana’s diplomatic community. They were given the opportunity to network, raise issues and defend themselves. On December 2, the U.S. Ambassador hosted a reception for young leaders, bringing together media, government representatives, members of the opposition, civil society officials, election officials, and the diplomatic corps to recognize these young leaders. could discuss issues directly. Influencing young people with disabilities and decision makers. Hong. Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Minister Gail Teixeira shared remarks on the importance of inclusion, education and removing stigma.
From the prioritized areas, participants developed action plans and declarations focused on three areas: leadership and governance, employment, and accessibility. This declaration speaks to what they expect to happen in society as they drive future development. These young people will work collectively over the next year to advocate for positive change towards the Declaration, raise awareness of their rights, and motivate others to join the movement.
Now that the conference is complete, IFES Guyana looks forward to hosting an event of similar scale to ensure a level playing field for all persons with disabilities. IFES remains committed to developing the Youth ALLIES program and helping Guyanese youth navigate their societies and provide input towards their progress.
The Youth ALLIES program is made possible by the United States Eastern Caribbean Development Agency and South Caribbean Development Agency (USAID/ESC).