The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) is pleased for the election of a first ever deaf sign language user to the CRPD Committee. Dr Valery Rukhledev from the Russian Federation was elected during a vote held on the first day of the 9th Session of the Conference of States Parties in New York, USA. Mr Rukhledev is a former WFD Board member and currently also serves as the Director of the WFD Regional Secretariat in Eastern Europe and Middle Asia (EEMARS).
“These were the fifth CRPD Committee elections and now, finally, we have a deaf sign language user in the Committee”, stated WFD President Colin Allen. “Prior to each election the WFD has been actively encouraging its members to lobby nationally for an individual using sign language”, he continued. “Now this hard work, in addition to some other factors, has borne fruit. I am also very glad that a person with intellectual disabilities, self-advocate Robert Martin from New Zealand was elected adding to the diversity of the Committee”, concluded President Allen.
One of the re-elected is Dr László Gábor Lovászy from Hungary, who in 2012 was the first hard of hearing to join the CRPD Committee. Dr Lovászy has a wide experience and knowledge in disability and human rights law and has established a good relationship with the Deaf Community during his first term.
Whilst warmly congratulating all nine elected Committee members and waiting for fruitful and close co-operation with them, the WFD is extremely concerned about the radical decrease in number of females on the Committee. Whereas the current Committee serving until the end of 2016 is composed of 6 females, the new will only have one woman, Ms Theresia Degener from Germany.This is against the spirit of the CRPD Article 34 calling for balanced gender representation in the election of the members, and shows an alarming example to the whole world on how recommendations can easily be put aside”, adds Ms Kaisa Alanne, WFD Board member, who witnessed in person the election in New York. “I am stunned that at the 21st century when gender issues and parity are rightfully emphasised in official speeches we can still end up in this situation“, she affirmed.
Despite the disappointment in lack of female representation, the WFD once again congratulates all elected CRPD Committee members and looks forward to continuing good co-operation with them. The Committee is currently drafting its General Comment on Article 24 (Education), an issue of great importance and advocacy work for the WFD.