I have a picture taken on the final day in the final hour of this year's 10th Conference of States Parties (CoSP10) to the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD). It's a picture of the empty corridor between the two United Nations buildings that had been traversed by hundreds of women with disabilities only hours before.
CoSP10 was significant.
It was this year that Canada appeared before the Committee that oversees the CRPD for its first formal review.
It was this year that many Canadian Disabled Persons Organizations (DPOs) went not once, but twice to Geneva to make sure that the Government of Canada was held to account for what it has and has not done since signing and ratifying Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.
At CoSP10 Minister Carla Qualtrough and other members of the Canadian Government's official Delegation spoke of the new Federal Accessibility Act (pending Federal legislation expected early in 2018) as the first step towards fulfilling the promise of full implementation of the CRPD and a Canada where people with disabilities can expect the realization of our human rights.
And finally, this year there was a focus on youth, and our Delegation included three young Canadian women with disabilities, Molly Burke, Simone Cavanaugh and Jana Husseini who are already global leaders in their own right.
Attending the UN Conference of States Parties was a privilege and an honour. For four glorious days, I was in the company of women with disabilities and Deaf women leaders from around the world. It's always good to be among your peers; it gives you a sense of belonging, hope and possibility. Peer support is critical to lifting ourselves out of our oppression.
This is not something that women and girls with disabilities in Canada can yet claim. There are but a handful of peer support groups and no resources to speak of for women and girls with disabilities and Deaf women and girls in Canada. I spent time with our young women delegates and while their individual strengths and leadership give me hope, the time has come to move beyond hope and possibility to concrete action and meaningful investments.
Prime Minister Trudeau and his Government need to do more than promise women and girls with disabilities that a better day is coming by flashing our new feminist policies to the developed and developing world. Especially when our best kept national shame is the crushing poverty, highest rates of violence, and alarming rates of homelessness and incarceration that belong to women with disabilities and Deaf women.
It is time for Canada to lead from within. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent in celebration of Canada's 150 years. Yet to date there have been no promises made or fulfilled for us, for our women and girls - one of five women in Canada. An empty corridor at the UN cannot be the legacy of CoSP10.
Instead, let this be the year in which commitments are made and a long view is taken to addressing equity for women with disabilities and Deaf women. Instead, let this be our new day Canada.