“Get up, stand up, stand up for your right”, was the slogan at yesterday’s International Disability Day celebration.
Mataiti Mataiti, the president of the Cook Islands Disability Council, urged the members to continue fighting for their rights in a moving event held at the National Auditorium Domes.
Speaking on the theme “The future is accessible”, Mataiti, who communicated with the audience using a voice assistive technology, said until the Cook Islands was fully accessible, people with disability would continue to be left behind and excluded.
“Making sure our future is accessible, is to ensure that no one is left behind, but until our country is fully accessible, people with disability will continue to be left behind, and excluded.
“To every person with a disability living in the Cook Islands, I ask that you join me in the council and the fight to remind our government that our life matters too.
“We must make a stand together and hold them accountable, we must be vigilant, smart and speak as one voice.
“We want to be included in the decisions that may impact on our lives, and to support the progressive realisations of persons with disabilities.”
This year marks the 10th year for the Cook Islands as member of the United Nations Convention of the Right of Persons with Disability.
Mataiti said the council was excited that a new national committee would be established to oversee the implementation of the new national policy on disability.
Internal Affairs senior disability coordinator Pauline Rangi said “we want to celebrate and acknowledge persons with disability to ensure they have access to public places, buildings, and work places.
“We are doing our best to improving that persons with disability are to be inclusive. We as a community need to give support and we hope we can create more awareness and understanding.”
The Are Pa Metua, Te Kainga, Nukutere college, Creative Centre, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Girls and Women with Disability, Disability Council, National Council of Women and supporters attended yesterday’s event.