On 8 July, the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities held its official side event at the 2020 High-level Political Forum. The event revolved around the question: Will the SDGs be Still Relevant After the Pandemic for Persons with Disabilities?

Jaime Cruz, our National Representative for Peru, spoke up for people with intellectual disabilities. This is what he had to say,

"People with an intellectual disability and their families have been more readily affected because of the discrimination that existed before COVID-19.

In my work as a self-advocate in Peru and internationally I have been connecting with other people with an intellectual disability. We talk about our experiences and the discrimination and injustices we have faced during this COVID-19 time. 

For example, in Peru people with an intellectual disability were not considered when giving information about COVID-19 since it was not presented in a simple way that we can understand. We need different adaptations such as simple language and easy reading.

Our Governments first response to the lock down measures was to give money to people in greatest need. But since people with an intellectual disability were not well registered in the national data many people have not received that support and we need help too.

The government response to continue with the education of students relied on use of technological equipment and internet which is something neither we nor our families knew well. Families were asked to support us at home but they also need to work from home to survive. As we are in Peru the situation is even worse as we cannot access technology or the internet due to poverty.

Teachers do the classes for those that do understand and if we do not have the adaptations we will again be out of the possibility of receiving quality education. 

Job opportunities are few and many of us are afraid of losing our jobs. We want to continue working. 

My colleagues in Latin America say that now is more difficult to study and get a job. 

My colleague Salma in Egypt recently spoke about the health injustices that people with an intellectual disability face in her country. She said that people with an intellectual disability who have COVID-19 do not have access to treatment. Hospital staff are choosing to treat people without disabilities and they leave us in an isolated place where our family members cannot even see us. We need our support close to us and doctors and nurses must know how to relate to us.

In US, Canada and across Europe our fellow self-advocates say that many people with an intellectual disability in institutions have died of COVID-19 or have become infected due to lack of information and support. Adults with an intellectual disability who live with older parents are also at risk because they don't know how to get help if their relative becomes infected. We need you to think of more forms of community support. 

Now that we are trying to get ahead, Governments must think of actions that really include us, think of our needs and think about the things that were not well done. They must ensure to have good records about us and that we receive the quality education that we need. That we are not fired from our jobs. That women and girls with an intellectual disability are prepared so they do not allow themselves to be molested or abused and they can ask for help in a simple and safe way.

Governments have an opportunity to do things right. Now people without disabilities have lived through the lock-down, and it is something that happened to us before COVID-19. Now everybody has poor access to health, someone deciding on your behalf, lack of jobs and an educational system difficult to understand. We want that to change, to think about everyone, to think about us too so that no one is left behind."

You can watch the full recording of the side event here: