In this issue of Opening Stages we focus some attention on Ireland, thanks to Kari Pope, our talented contributor who is living there right now. It seems fitting that we should look beyond the United States, because we actually have subscribers all over the world. They live in the United Kingdom, Pakistan, Australia, Canada, Brazil, Ireland, Kyrgyzstan, India and Malawi. I find it exciting that we are helping to create a global community of interest in the professional development of disabled performing artists.
According to the United Nations there are 650 million people with disabilities in the world. Last year the UN adopted the historic Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The purpose of the Convention is to end discrimination and exclusion of people with physical and mental disabilities in education, jobs, and everyday life. It requires countries to guarantee people with disabilities freedom from exploitation and abuse and to protect their basic rights, such as architectural access and the right to vote. Countries must also ensure the equal right of people with disabilities to own and inherit property, to control their financial affairs, and to have privacy in their personal lives.
The Convention is the first human rights treaty of the 21st century and the fastest negotiated international human rights instrument in history. There has been a huge amount of support for the Convention, and it is setting records for the number of countries around the world that are ratifying it. This is very gratifying, and we only wish that the United States would join the movement.
The struggle for disability rights is definitely one thing that unites our vast community. Another seems to be the growing desire to express ourselves in the very public, proud way afforded by the performing arts. I am very pleased that Opening Stages is part of this trend.