Remarks as prepared
Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
Reception in honor of International Day for Persons with Disabilities
December 2, 2022
Honorable Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira and other Ministers of the Government
Honorable members of the Opposition
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Board members and other executives of the Guyana Council of Organizations for People with Disabilities or GCOPD
Members of the media
Good evening. It’s my pleasure to host you in observance of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities.
This morning I had the pleasure of speaking at the opening ceremony for Guyana’s first ever National Conference for Youth with Disabilities. I interacted with a group of talented and passionate young Guyanese who are committed to seeing their rights recognized and honored and are here to remind us that disability rights are human rights.
With over 48,000 people with disabilities living in Guyana, an inclusive approach to development, that guarantees the rights of persons with disabilities, is essential if Guyana is to attain broad-based development, that assures equal opportunities for all its citizens.
The purpose of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is to promote, protect, and ensure, the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity. Our governments, the United States and Guyana, have signed onto this convention, indicating our intent to abide by its principles and work towards meeting its obligations. It’s my hope that we continue our strong partnership in pursuit of this important and urgent work.
As I stated this morning, the U.S. Government will continue to support measures that allow each person with a disability to enjoy equal access, live an independent life driven by self-determination, and contribute on equal terms to the development of their communities.
On this important day, I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate the work of some young people and perhaps older ones too, who are working tirelessly to contribute to their country’s development.
Ackila (AH-KILLA) Smith, a young woman who is working under a USAID Youth ALLIES community action initiative to improve education for people who are blind or have low vision.
Gabrielle McKenzie and Asif (AH-SIFF) Khan, two young Guyanese who are working together under another Youth ALLIES community action initiative to educate young people with disabilities about their sexual and reproductive health, as well as rights.
Rosemarie Ramitt, Lata Devi Jagmohan, Gabriel Gilkes, Anjali Sookra Lennox Fredericks, Teshawn Rodney, and Fiona Cumberbatch who are all young Guyanese with disabilities who lead training sessions to build leadership skills and civic awareness of young people with and without disabilities, all across Guyana. These young people are all role models for all Guyanese.
Ganesh Singh, Program Coordinator of the G-C-O-P-D; G-C-O-P-D Board Chair, Cecil Morris; and other members of the Board of G-C-O-P-D, who have all been dedicated advocates for people with disabilities over many years… we salute you.
These people have proven that people with disabilities can lead productive lives, and have so much to contribute to their communities and country.
I would also like to acknowledge Meredith Applegate and the entire team of the USAID Youth ALLIES program, for responding to G-C-O-P-D’s call for youth, and all persons with disabilities to be afforded their rights of inclusion in mainstream life, in elections and in governance, and for devising innovative ways of supporting this call.
While we celebrate, I’m sure we can all agree that much work remains to create an environment that achieves true non-discrimination, and affords people with disabilities the freedom, dignity and respect to which they are all entitled.
I applaud the advocacy and action of those who have worked in the interest of people with disabilities, and I’m hopeful that this advocacy leads to real improvements with respect to access to education, access to employment, access to buildings, access to the electoral system, and generally, more meaningful participation of people with disabilities in public and civic life.
We owe it to the young people here, brimming with potential, to move towards meaningful action that transforms their lives and opens up the opportunities they deserve, to create the future they envision for themselves.
The U.S. Government remains your committed partner in this work.