With less than a month until the European Elections, the 6th European Independent Living Day will call on disabled people to go out and vote and at the same time highlight barriers to political participation. Barriers can be inaccessible polling stations, but also a total deprivation of the right to vote.
To live independently, disabled people must be provided with all the necessary means to be able to make their own choices and decisions and have full and control over their lives. The upcoming elections provide an opportunity to make clear to candidates that they must promote the full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and join the fight to make the right to independent Living real for all EU citizens.
ENIL published a guiding Manifesto with 4 key principles to realise Independent Living in Europe:
1. Ensure freedom of movement for all. It is unacceptable that disabled people cannot choose where they will live, study or travel within the EU. The right to Free Movement should be backed up by a strong European social framework to make EU rights accessible for all.
2. End institutional care. Disabled children and adults are still segregated in large and small institutions across Europe. Independent Living in the community is a right for all disabled people, set out in Article 19 of the CRPD, and further explained in General Comment 5.
3. Involve citizens in making EU Funds more transparent and effective. Disabled people are largely excluded from decisions on how EU Funds are used, even when spent on projects meant to improve their lives. This process should be based on co-production, with full involvement of disabled people.
4. Mainstream disability rights. Independent living is about more than being able to get out of bed. To live independently means having access to education, employment, public transport, housing, culture, sports, and other areas. Coordination is needed at all levels of government to ensure that disabled people can participate in society as active citizens.
Disabled people and allies from all over Europe will mark the 6th Independent Living Day with a variety actions including conferences, protests, publications and videos. Using the hashtag #ILDAY19, they will send messages to politicians on what they are voting for.
With so many barriers still in the way of full inclusion and participation of disabled people, these elections are a chance to elect those who will genuinely support Independent Living and other CRPD rights in their countries and at EU level.
*ENIL will be in front of the European Parliament in Brussels with other disability organisations on 6th May (9:30 – 17:30), where it will invite MEP candidates to sign a pledge in support of its Elections Manifesto.
** Follow how the European Independent Living Day is celebrated around Europe on ENIL’s Facebook page.