Being a member of ENIL for four years, and half of that time using the chance to be part of ENIL Youth Network Board gave me the opportunity to become its representative at Advisory Council on Youth of Council of Europe. It is a privilege and an honor for one disability rights activist.

My mandate at Advisory Council on Youth of Council of Europe was supposed to start in January 2020, but I got a chance to step in four months earlier due to my predecessor’s decision to leave that position before the end of her term. It was a challenge for me at one point, because of my previously taken obligations, but becoming a part of a great international organization dedicated to youth issue is a great story, so beside many obligations- the dots were connected!

Role of the Rapporteur on Mainstreaming Disability Issues

The Joint Council on Youth (CMJ) brings together the European Steering Committee for Youth (CDEJ) and the Advisory Council on Youth (CCJ).  It is a co-decision-making body which establishes the youth sector’s priorities, objectives and budgets.

Last year, following the closure of the Disability Unit of the Council of Europe, a call was issued to intergovernmental committees and subordinate bodies to mainstream the Council of Europe Disability Strategy 2017-2023 throughout the Organization.

At its 40th meeting (15-17 October 2018), feeling it important to take the lead on action to include young people with disabilities in Council of Europe activities, the inclusion of marginalized and disadvantaged groups of young people being one of its core goals, the Advisory Council on Youth decided to propose “the inclusion of young people with disabilities” as the subject of the CMJ’s thematic debate.

The proposal of the Advisory Council on Youth’s to appoint a Rapporteur on Mainstreaming Disability Issues in order to monitor and promote disability issues in the Council of Europe Youth Department was accepted by governmental representatives.

The role of the Rapporteur on Mainstreaming Disability Issues is to inform the Joint Council on Youth of key developments relating to the human rights of young people with disabilities and to take the lead on actions to mainstream disability within the Council of Europe Youth Department’s programme of activities.

Giving my first speech as Rapporteur on Mainstreaming Disability Issues, I emphasized some of the Recommendations to member states given by the Joint Council on Youth during previously mentioned thematic debate, which are coming from the practice of ENIL and my personal engagement at local and international level. First was: ensure safe spaces in order for people to talk about disabilities, how to act and where they can get information. I am doing this at local level for few years and results are very positive. This is connected to recommendation on fighting stigma and stereotypes around the topic of disabilities. Of course, work on accessibility of infrastructure and service of personal assistance was on the list. Last recommendation was: provide young people with disabilities with a fair access to the job market.

For me, as a disability rights activist, will be an important task to make disability issue a “hot spot” even more than it is now, to tackle international approach to disability issue and emphasize importance of independent living of persons with disabilities, which should be a role model when it comes to improving our life conditions. What is significant when it comes to international dimension of this engagement is that we can learn from other’s approach to one problem regardless to culturological differences. Because disability will be “an issue” for the most societies in Europe, not “a task to do” for a state as a system. I believe that, using these opportunities, we can raise our voice for better life of persons with disabilities.

Marijeta Mojasevic, ENIL Youth Network