A life-long human rights activist, Catalina Devandas became the first United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities in 2014.
In her talk, Catalina will share important lessons she learned about the barriers that she, together with millions of other persons with disabilities face in their lives. She explains how the most difficult barriers are not those in buildings, streets or the physical environment, but those emanating from a system of social values that deem persons with disabilities as less worthy and unable to lead meaningful lives.
She also explains how the global movement of persons with disabilities is fighting back against those barriers, and why the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities has been such a crucial ally in their struggle! Catalina Devandas is the first UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She was born in Costa Rica with spina bifida.
A lawyer by training, Catalina is a dedicated human rights advocate. She has worked for the Disability Rights Fund (DRF), the United Nations, and the World Bank, and, in 2006, she took part in the drafting of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
In her work as Special Rapporteur, Catalina collects testimonies and evidence of human rights violations from persons with disabilities around the world, and makes recommendations to governments, to promote and protect their rights in laws and institutional practices.