Albinism: "The battle continues, but we are gaining ground"
GENEVA (11 June 2018) – Speaking ahead of International Albinism Awareness Day on Wednesday,13 June, the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, Ikponwosa Ero, takes stock of progress under the theme of the Day, “shining our light to the world”.
“Today, we celebrate the remarkable contributions of persons with albinism including Goldalyn Kakuya, a 14-year-old girl with albinism, who topped Kenya’s national primary school exams in December and shattered stereotypes and myths. Indeed, it is still often believed that persons with albinism are unable to learn. This prejudice illustrates the particular discrimination they face regarding access to education, including persistent bullying and the absence of reasonable accommodation for the vision impairment that is often part of albinism.
Similarly, six women with albinism including victims of attacks and mutilation are currently preparing to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, shattering myths about albinism from one of the highest points in the world. This campaign is a richly symbolic demonstration of the capabilities of women with albinism.
While we celebrate, we take a moment to reflect on those who have been attacked and lost their lives or were mutilated because they have albinism. I am heartened by the commitment to putting these atrocities to an end. Indeed the battle continues, but we are gaining ground.
In light of the fundamental pledge made in 2015 by all member states of the United Nations to leave no one behind, starting with the furthest behind first, it is essential for all stakeholders to support persons with albinism in their quest for the enjoyment of their human rights. There are challenges but these are evidently surmountable.”
Ms. Ikponwosa Ero (Nigeria) was designated in June 2015 as the first UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism by the Human Rights Council. Inspired by her experiences as a person with albinism, Ms. Ero spent the last seven years working on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism. As international advocacy and legal officer of Under the Same Sun, an NGO with a focus on albinism, she participated in multiple activities and panels at the UN in Geneva and New York. She has extensive experience in research, policy development and advocacy in the field of albinism. She is the author of numerous papers and articles on the issue, including with regards to the categorisation of persons with albinism in the international human rights system. Learn more
The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
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This year is the 70th anniversaryof the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages –is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org.