The Parliamentarian 2021 Issue Four: Commonwealth Parliaments supporting people with disabilities

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THE CHALLENGES AND BARRIERS FACING PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES IN THE COMMONWEALTH: WHAT ROLE CAN THE CPA PLAY? Acting Chairperson of the CPA Executive Committee, Hon. Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP, Member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom

The Acting CPA Chairperson reflects on the theme for this issue of The Parliamentarian as well as reporting from his recent visits to COP26 and the CPA Africa Regional Conference.

One of the CPA’s greatest strengths is our convening power: our ability to bring together a plethora of individuals and their experiences, to enrich our political dialogue and help drive our mission forward. This shared space for innovation and dynamism, where all voices are equal, is crucial when it comes to looking at what role Commonwealth Parliamentarians, and the Legislatures that they belong to, can play in empowering persons with disabilities across the globe. As Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff, we all have a keen responsibility in our own jurisdictions to create and uphold disability-sensitive institutions which legislate for persons with disabilities and enable the participation of people with any disability, at all levels. Alongside the CPA networks of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) and the CPA Small Branches, the Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disabilities (CPwD) network plays a central role in representing, advocating for and providing a platform for all voices to be heard within the CPA and the Commonwealth. Advancing people with disabilities is integral to the CPA’s work and the robust and active CPwD network ensures that the full diversity of Commonwealth Parliamentarians’ experiences is reflected in our activities and outputs. Over the past year we have seen the CPwD network continue to grow and develop as a key tool in progressing our work on disability and helping us to address the challenges and barriers facing people with disabilities within the Commonwealth and the wider international arena. Indeed, the recently published CPwD Strategic Plan 2021-24 outlines how the network will work to encourage Commonwealth Parliaments to enable effective and full participation of persons with disabilities at all levels. I have every faith that our new CPwD Chairperson and Member of the National Assembly of Kenya, Hon. Dennitah Ghati MP, will lead the network from strength to strength during her tenure and I very much look forward to working alongside her in this endeavour. In my role as Acting CPA Chairperson, I hope to help our CPA networks to remain strong, vocal and responsive advocates for those whom they aim to represent. In addition to the CPwD network and its workstreams, 330 | The Parliamentarian | 2021: Issue Four | 100 years of publishing

disability is one of the six cross-cutting themes featured in our CPA Strategic Plan 2022-2025. In highlighting disability in this way, we are committing the CPA to mainstreaming disability awareness and sensitivity throughout our operations and workstreams. We will work to ensure that it is fully integrated across the CPA Secretariat’s ways of working and that the cross-cutting theme of disability underpins the development and delivery of all CPA budgets, programmes, communications, partnerships and evaluation methods. Through mainstreaming the theme of disability in our work and decision-making processes, we hope to create a more inclusive, responsive and relevant organisation. Furthering the effort to advance the CPA networks and as a member of several All-Party Parliamentary Groups in the UK Parliament, I also attended the recent COP26 held in Glasgow, Scotland. In line with further cross-cutting themes of Sustainable Development and Climate Change, COP26 was a crucial opportunity for Commonwealth countries and beyond, to commit to and pledge further climate change action. My arrival in Glasgow was deliberately timed to avoid the rush of world leaders and the attendant global publicity surrounding their presence. I arrived at the conference when the international trail of Presidents and Prime Ministers had departed, and the serious duty of negotiations had got under way. This visit provided me with a much clearer grasp of the myriad of critical issues at stake and the considerable dedication of those from our community of Commonwealth nations who were on hand to keep one another and the outside world informed about their different needs. It is, perhaps, far too easy to ignore the role of smaller countries in striving to avert catastrophic climate change. There is clearly a genuine will to succeed though it may not always be matched by the ability of everyone, to reach some of the more ambitious targets. Nevertheless, the pledges, final declarations and carefully agreed communiques are surely lasting testimony to the hard work of a great many negotiators. COP26 was never going to provide a magic remedy for the world’s past adherence to carbon, but it has left a vital set of future goals for every nation to aim at and – hopefully – to achieve. Following on from my attendance at COP26, I was delighted

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