News 07.07.10
A look back - World Congress of Inclusion International
3,000 persons with and without disabilities from more than 80 countries attended the 15th World Congress of Inclusion International from 16 - 19 June 2010 in Berlin, Germany. Organising associations were Inclusion Europe and the German Lebenshilfe Association. The event’s motto was „Inclusion – Transforming Global Rights into Action”, its focus was the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the practical implementation of this document.

Optimism and euphoria dominated the Congress. It was apparent that persons with disabilities and people acting in the field of rehabilitation have high expectations for the implementation of the UN Convention. They expect the Convention to improve the general situation of persons with disabilities. That is exactly what the Congress promised to address. The goal was to identify how to achieve improvements using the UN Convention, with special focus on:
  • The right of disabled people to make decisions for themselves.
  • The right to be included in the community.
  • The right to inclusive education.
  • The right of families to get the support they need.
  • The right to live without poverty and discrimination.
Several high-ranking politicians attended the opening ceremony, with Ursula von der Leyen, the German Minister for Social Affairs, as the most prominent among them. Concerning inclusion, she stated: „This is like a journey in which we have a goal clearly in mind. But we need good travel partners, if we are to achieve our goal.” von der Leyen underlined how necessary it was for the Federal Government, that persons with disabilities and their organizations participate in the implementation of the Convention, because „they know best what needs to be done”. Concerning the occupation of persons with disability she said: „Most disabled persons can and want to work. They can and want to have a profession and earn their own money. Therefore, they should get the help they need.”

German chancellor Angela Merkel send a video message to the participants of the World Congress. „The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a great step forward”, she said. As Germany was among the first countries to have adopted the international treaty in parliament, the government is now working on a national action plan on the implementation of the UN Convention.

Additional guests of honour were Ulla Schmidt, the former Federal Health Minister, and Hubert Hüppe, the Federal Commissioner for Matters relating to Disabled Persons.

During the congress, Klaus Lachwitz of the German Lebenshilfe Association was elected new President of Inclusion International. He followed Diane Richler from Canada. Lachwitz is the first German to hold this position.

BAG WfbM was present at Inclusion International. Secretary General Stephan Hirsch and four additional experts of BAG WfbM attended lectures and used the opportunity to inform many visitors from abroad about workshops of adapted work and the system of rehabilitation in Germany. Especially helpful in most conversations was the book „United in Diversity” externer Link, published by BAG WfbM that describes the German system of workshops in English language.

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Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Werkstätten für behinderte Menschen e. V. (BAG WfbM) is the political representative of sheltered workshops in Germany. We represent 93 % of all German workshops. All public welfare organisations and religious denominations work jointly in our organisation.

Our task is to give expert advice on questions related to employment, vocational training, financing and legal issues. Additionally, we are actively involved in the legislation process. BAG WfbM promotes for the participation of persons with disabilities in working life.
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