With two of the Special Olympic Ambassadors
Aung San Suu Kyi addresses the Summit
Prime Minister Kim welcomes the speakers
The needs of the disabled and their potential should be recognised and addressed in the social and economic development plans of every nation and community
Cherie travelled to the Korea at the end of January to participate in the first Global Development Summit focusing on people with Intellectual Disabilities which took place at the start of the Special Olympics 2013 in the ski resort of Pyeong Chang .
More than 300 people gathered at the Winter Olympics Convention Centre, representing Government, business, education, NGO's, media and other engaged parties. The aim was to formulate an action plan to ensure that people with intellectual disabilities share the benefits of the UN Millennium Development Goals, to eradicate poverty, hunger, child mortality and disease by promoting education, gender equality and global partnerships.
Following a welcome from the Prime Minister of Korea, the first keynote speech of the summit was delivered by Aung San Suu Kyi who spoke of the need to respect the dignity of others no matter what their circumstances. She also emphasised the importance of team sports as a key tool in healthy development both physically and socially and made a plea for help in improving the sports and education facilities in her Country which are currently sadly neglected. Aung San Suu Kyi pointed out that in many ways the people of Burma are themselves disabled by the lack of basic educational and healthcare facilities.
Cherie then took part as moderator of a panel which included professional sports men and women, Government representatives and participants in the Special Olympics who discussed the transformative power of sport and its ability to break down barriers. Sport offers the opportunity to challenge oneself and to participate in inclusive activities and team building, it enables people with intellectual disabilities to come 'out of the shadows' and show what they can achieve. Sporting activities benefit not only people with disabilities but also serve as a strong social development tool for the wider community, teaching important values such as tolerance, understanding, acceptance, and advocacy.
At lunchtime Cherie was delighted to meet the second female President of an African State, HE Joyce Banda, of Malawi who herself spoke in the afternoon about the challenges faced by the marginalised, which she knows only too well as leader of one of the poorest Countries in the world. In her view 'Poverty creates exclusion and exclusion creates poverty; stigmatization amounts to neglect. Disabled people are the most likely to suffer from poor resources, abuse and violence' She hopes to obtain growth in Malawi not just economically but socially too and hosted an event for 2,000 disabled people at State House recently in order to promote acceptance and understanding.
The summit concluded that In a development context, sport has become an increasing valuable tool for aid agencies and Government bodies alike in creating strong and sustainable platforms from which larger goals can be pursued such as national reconciliation, health messages about diseases such as HIV, vaccination campaigns. For those with Intellectual disabilities it can help public awareness of difference and respect for the contribution that every member of society can make to a Nation.
For further information about the Summit click here