On the last day of the Freedom Drive, on 3 October, ENIL will be holding a half-day conference on Independent Living (10:00 – 14:00). The aim of the conference will be to take stock of ENIL’s campaigning and advocacy over the last 30 years, to discuss what has changed since then – in the political landscape and the way we work as NGOs – and what lessons we should be taking from this into the future. In particular, we will formulate recommendations for the Post 2020 European Disability Strategy, which will be drafted over the next year.

The conference will be divided into two panels, the first focusing on the past and the present, and the second on the future strategy. In each panel, we will have a presentation, followed by moderated discussion.

The conference will open with a presentation by Kapka Panayotova, ENIL President and a video message by Catalina Devandas Aguilar, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We have also invited a representative of the Disability Unit at DG Employment, European Commission (TBC) and the MEP Marisa Matias (TBC), a great supporter of ENIL’s work.

The first panel – Reclaiming the term ‘Independent Living’ – will start with a presentation by Adolf Ratzka, who will reflect on the first 30 years of the Independent Living movement in Europe. The discussion that follows will focus on today’s challenges to implementing the right to live independently and to be included in the community. We will speak about austerity, the lack of legal protections, institutionalisation, Personal Assistance, and access to independent living for older people, with input from Jos Huys (Belgium), Adolf Ratzka (Sweden), Tara Flood (UK), Jukka Kumpuvuori (Finland) and Elisabeta Moldovan (Romania, TBC).

The second panel – Towards a new strategy for Independent Living – will feature a presentation by one of our strongest members, ULOBA (Norway), about working nationally and globally to advance access to independent living for all disabled people. As part of the discussion, our Advocacy Officer Frank Sioen will present ENIL’s proposals for the new European Disability Strategy, and we will have representatives of the Japanese Independent Living movement speak about how we can better link European and global advocacy. We will also be inviting representatives of the European Commission to join us in this panel, to share some of the opportunities and limitations at EU level in the next 5 – 10 years. Our plan is to take an intersectional approach, to make sure that we take into account additional barriers and discrimination that some disabled people are facing.

In the closing session, we will hear key messages from the conference, drafted by the conference rapporteur, and we have invited our former Board member Stelios Kympouropoulos, who has just been elected to the European Parliament to close the conference.

The conference will take place in the European Commission’s Charlemagne building at 170 Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat, where the European Day of Persons with Disabilities takes place. Coffee breaks and lunch will be provided. The working language will be English and speech to text translation will be available. If requested, international sign language interpretation will be available as well. All ENIL members, organisational and individual, are invited to stay for the General Assembly in the afternoon.

The conference is open to all, but registration is necessary. We hope to see many of you there on 3 October 2019.

Call for volunteers – Reminder

Finally, we wish to remind you about our call for volunteers during the Freedom Drive week. If you are based in Brussels and you are interested in helping out during the event, please contact Kamil Goungor, our Development Officer and contact point for the Freedom Drive at: kamil.goungor@enil.eu.

To stay updated about the 2019 Freedom Drive, please check this Freedom Drive summary page on our website, and make sure to check our website, the Freedom Drive Facebook page, as well as our Newsletters.

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