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Speaking in one voice for inclusion

Swarnalakshmi at a side event on deliberations around SDGs at UN
© The Hindu
Swarnalakshmi at a side event on deliberations around SDGs at UN

As the United Nations General Assembly gets ready to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals, Swarnalakshmi Ravi, 16, has called for a focus on inclusion, including on the children with disabilities, for creating a better world. CBM India is proud to be part of her journey as a young disability rights champion.

As leaders from the global community and representatives of civil society deliberate on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a 16-year-old captivated the audience at a high-powered event to call for inclusion and participation in shaping the future of children from all backgrounds.

Swarnalakshmi and eight other children are representing the Nine is Mine campaign for child rights to demand inclusive policies for children and securing their rights ahead of the adoption of the SDGs at the 70th session of the U.N. General Assembly.

CBM India has been a part of Swarnalakshmi’s inspiring journey and is supporting her participation in important events at New York ahead of the historic general assembly meeting.  

Swarnalakshmi, who has vision impairment, is a shining example of a CBM India initiative for promoting and championing participation of children with disabilities in the larger campaign for child rights.

For close to three years CBM India has been working with its partners on ensuring participation of children with disabilities in the Neighbourhood Parliaments of Children (NPCs).

A strong voice of inclusion

The teenager while delivering her speech stated that ‘another world is indeed possible’ and must ‘include everyone’, she was emphasizing on ‘inclusion’ being the bedrock of SDGs. 

“The fact that the three of us can speak in one voice is itself a message to the world that another world is indeed possible… based on deep listening, sharing, on teamwork — a world in which everyone is included,” said Swarnalakshmi, highlighting the diversity she and her co-presenters represented.

Poorna spoke in her mother tongue Telugu, while Yashasvi translated the same in sign language, as all three of them conveyed their message in unison, reports a news article in The Hindu newspaper.

Ensuring participation

Swarnalakshmi joined the Neighbourhood Parliament of Children’s initiative when CBM India introduced the Little Flower School, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, for children with vision impairment, to the initiative. 

These parliaments instill values of participation and democratic beliefs with inclusive units consisting of thirty children each that get federated at villages, panchayats, blocks, the district, state and national levels.

CBM India is enabling children with disabilities to join the democratic process and bring focus on people with disabilities. This is also making the policy demands on child rights being raised by these parliaments more inclusive. The project aims to have each of the child ministers ensure participation and leadership of children with disabilities, while becoming aware of larger issues of disability and inclusion.

A large number of children with disabilities are now members of these parliaments since CBM started promoting participation in 2012. As disability has become a part of their worldview, these children and young leaders have added, a position of ‘minister of disability concerns’. 

Swarnalakshmi got elected as the finance minister of Tamil Nadu - Pondicherry in the state parliament of children in 2012 and got elected as the state prime minister in 2013.

She is now the first child prime minister of India after being elected from representatives from 27 states. 
Thumbnail for video "Winning combination of cricket and inclusion" Thumbnail for video "Winning combination of cricket and inclusion"

Winning combination of cricket and inclusion

Message by India’s T20 Blind Cricket Team on celebrating CBM India’s winning combination of cricket and inclusion.

Thumbnail for video "Why Vidya must go to school" Thumbnail for video "Why Vidya must go to school"

Why Vidya must go to school

We all feel very strongly about the need of education for enabling children to find opportunities and addressing development challenges of the country


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