EPSA conference “Empowerment. United against discrimination” (Brussels, Belgium)
Between 28-30 June 2003 the European Platform of Self-Advocates (EPSA) organised a European Conference of Self-Advocates under the auspices of the European Year of People with Disabilities. With the title “Empowerment. United against discrimination”, the steering group of EPSA and the self-advocates that are members of the board of Inclusion Europe prepared the event at the International Association Centre in Brussels. The Preparation Committee was chaired by Ulla Topi who has been chairperson of Me Itse Ry – the Finish Self-Advocacy Organisation – since 1999 and chairperson of EPSA since 2002. By focussing on the fight against discrimination, the self-advocates support in a great deal the political work of Inclusion Europe during the EYPD. As they are in the best position to explain which situations of discrimination they encounter in their daily life, self-advocates can provide an important contribution to strong content wise positions regarding a disability-specific directive.
In the first two days of the conference the self-advocates talked about their dreams, hopes and fears and worked with each other. Topics that were addressed:
- education and training,
- legal issues,
- health and sexuality,
- living conditions,
- private/family life,
- accessibility of information
For each of these topics a negative (discrimination), a positive (inclusion) example and some slogans were given. Important is the way in which the self-advocates wanted to address these examples and slogans.
Ulla Topi, President of EPSA, gave a strong speech on how self advocates can be stronger by working together on important things e.g. getting rid of discrimination.
On the last day the conclusions of the first two days, the message was brought to the outside world.
The self-advocates really wanted to prompt the decision makers into taking a position regarding self-advocacy and non-discrimination.
Main idea underneath this all: “Nothing about us without us!”.