New Regional Champions for Disabilities network announced
The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) has announced nine new Regional Champions, selected to lead and champion the Commonwealth Parliamentarians with Disabilities (CPwD) network. The CPwD Regional Champions, who held their first virtual meeting this week, have been chosen to represent each of the CPA’s Regions and will promote the rights of Commonwealth Parliamentarians with disabilities in their respective Region and represent disability interests within the CPA.
The new CPwD Regional Champions are:
- CPA Africa Region: Hon. Dennitah Ghati, MP, Member of the National Assembly of Kenya
- CPA Asia Region: Hon. Zill-E-Huma, MNA, Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan
- CPA Australia Region: Hon. Gareth Ward, MP, Member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly and Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services
- CPA British Islands and Mediterranean Region: Hon. Ann Jones, MS, Deputy Presiding Officer of the National Assembly of Wales
- CPA Canada Region: Hon. Kevin Murphy, MLA, Speaker of the House of Assembly, Nova Scotia
- CPA Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic Region: Sen. Paul Richards, Member of the Senate of Trinidad and Tobago
- CPA India Region: Smt. Supriya Sule, MP, Member of the Parliament of India
- CPA Pacific Region: Hon. Viam Pillay, MP, Member of the Parliament of Fiji and Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment
- CPA South East Asia Region: Sen. Ras Adiba Mohd Radzi, Member of the Senate of Malaysia
The CPwD network has been established by the CPA to support Parliamentarians with disabilities to be more effective in their roles and to help improve awareness of disability issues amongst all Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff. During their three-year term, the CPwD Regional Champions will be a leading voice for persons with disabilities both within the CPA and in Parliaments across the Commonwealth, meeting regularly to co-ordinate the activities of the network and discuss issues affecting disability representation in Parliaments.
At their first meeting, the CPwD Regional Champions elected Hon. Kevin Murphy MLA, as the Chairperson of the network. Speaker Murphy, who was elected unanimously, thanked the Regional Champions for their vote of confidence in him and emphasised the importance of increasing disability representation in Parliaments. He stated,
“What inspired me, as a person with a disability, to stand for election in Nova Scotia was to ensure that disabled persons could see themselves reflected in their Parliament.”
Speaker Murphy, who is also a member of the CPA Executive Committee, will lead the network’s engagement with the CPA Headquarters Secretariat.
The CPA Secretary-General, Stephen Twigg, welcomed the announcement of the CPwD Regional Champions and praised their commitment to combatting the lack of disabled representation in Commonwealth Parliaments. Chairing the inaugural meeting, he said:
“I look forward to working with the new CPwD Regional Champions to increase awareness of disability issues in Commonwealth Parliaments and to promote the rights of Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff with disabilities.”