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Empowering Voices: A call for intersectional inclusion in disability rights

11 March 2024

In our engagement at the Human Rights Council – 55th Session on 11 March 2024, during Item 3’s Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the rights to Persons with Disabilities, Pratima Gurung, Secretary General for Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Global Network, delivered this powerful statement.

Ms. Special Rapporteur,

My name is Pratima Gurung, and I am the Secretary-General for the Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Global Network. On behalf of the Network, Minority Rights Group, and partners, we congratulate you on your recent appointment as Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Our organizations share your vision of the importance of addressing issues of intersectional discrimination through connecting with diverse voices and taking a collaborative cross-issue approach. We draw your attention to the distinct experiences of indigenous peoples with disabilities and persons with disabilities belonging to ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities. Together, they constitute millions of people across the world who are left the furthest behind owing to intersectional discrimination and inadequate representation of their issues in the disability rights movement. There is a small but growing number of organizations of persons with disabilities from indigenous and minority communities who will welcome opportunities to engage with your mandate.

Recognizing the key role that indigenous peoples have in contributing to combatting climate change, developing mitigation solutions, and protecting biodiversity, it is vital that indigenous people with disabilities are invited to share this knowledge and actively participate in the development of relevant policies and practices.

Our organizations welcome the attention to gender-responsive and disability-inclusive care and support frameworks but encourage the Special Rapporteur also to recognize that domestic work, including care, is heavily racialized, with care workers more likely to be from marginalized communities, including ethnic minority, indigenous and migrant communities.

Focusing on intersectionality and cross-movement collaboration is crucial to addressing global issues such as climate change, digital transformation, inclusive care, and support systems. We look forward to collaborating with your mandate in this collective endeavour.

I thank you.

Watch the statement

Malay Muslim women with disabilities in the South of Thailand share agricultural produce. Credit: Sakena Yuso.


Pratima Gurung