Cook Islands launch plan for women and girls with disabilities

In 2008, Mama Tuki Wright had a vision. It was to form an organisation in the Cook Islands to represent women and girls with a disability. A decade later, the organisation is a reality and has just launched its Strategic Plan 2018-22.

The Cook Islands Women & Girls with Disability Organisation believes that “all people, especially women and girls with disability, are entitled to opportunities to mature, learn, and grow in an environment that will support their passions, interests, dreams, and goals.”

Member of Parliament Ms. Rose Toki-Brown (centre) at the launch Photo credit: Cook Islands Ministry of Internal Affairs

Supported by the Australian Government through Pacific Women, working with the Gender and Development Office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the organisation’s Strategic Plan has three focus areas:

  • Advocate for and promote the rights of women and girls with disabilities
  • Leadership, good governance and enabling environment
  • Inclusive economic development and decent work.

Mr Mataiti Mataiti, President Cook Islands National Disability Council making his speech with simultaneous sign language translation. Photo credit: Cook Islands Ministry of Internal Affairs

Ms Takingaiva Eitiare Framhein, Board member of Cook Islands National Disability Council, said that the days of being locked away are gone.

 

“Women and girls with a disability have rights. We have the CRPD (Convention on the Rights of People with Disability), CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women) and the Cook Islands Disability Act 2008. We need to give women and girls the opportunity to explore their potential so they feel they are somebody and can contribute to society.”

Mr Mataiti Mataiti, President of Cook Islands National Disability Council, said he hoped development in the Cook Islands will reflect the sustainable development goals of leaving no one behind.

“We must make sure people with disability are consulted and included.”

The launch of the Plan was widely attended by people with disabilities, members of the National Disability Council, other civil society organisations and two members of parliament, Ms Rose Toki-Brown and Ms Tetangi Matapo.