You are here

Lusaka, Zambia: More than 100 children and young people with disabilities put on their running shoes and ran alongside United Nations staff from over 14 African Countries, during the official opening of the 12th UN All Africa Games hosted by Zambia from 11-12 October 2019.

The participation of children and young people with disabilities at the UN Games was part of in-country activities to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Zambia. With a special 50 meters marathon route set up for the children and young people, the marathon aimed to encourage a more inclusive society through sport, as well as advocate for enhanced actions to ensure no one is left behind as Zambia moves towards fulfiling the promise of ICPD.

The marathon was flagged off by the Minister of Youth, Sports and Child Development Hon. Emmanuel Mulenga, joined by the United Nations Zambia Resident Coordinator Dr Coumba Mar Gadio and UNFPA Zambia Country Representative Ms. Gift Malunga; who also cheered and awarded the participants with sports medals at the finish line.

In a speech delivered by the Minister of Youth, Sport and Child Development, His Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia, underscored that promoting the participation and empowerment of persons with disabilities is key towards inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as envisioned in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which pledges to ‘leave no one behind’. "As Zambia continues to strive to attain middle income status by 2030, the Government of Zambia has prioritized the implementation of programmes that address development inequalities across the five pillars of the 7th National Development Plan,” President Lungu said.

Also speaking during the official opening of the Games, the United Nations Zambia Resident Coordinator Dr Coumba Mar Gadio underscored the critical need to ensure no one is left behind in Zambia’s quest for Sustainable Development. "Carrying forward the vision of the ICPD will unlock opportunities for those left behind and help pave the way for sustainable, equitable and inclusive development for all,"  Dr Mar Gadio said.

Underscoring the critical link between fulfilling the promise of ICPD and the elimination of discrimination among persons with disabilities, UNFPA Representative Ms Gift Malunga said “It was uplifting to see children and young people with disabilities crossing the finish line today. By running this marathon together, we dissipate common misperceptions that often make persons with disabilities invisible and excluded. We also demonstrated collective efforts to fulfil the promise of ICPD for those who are left out and left behind”

The marathon was also supported by the National Sports Council of Zambia and the Disabilities Sports Federation of Zambia.

"When I grow up, I want to help other young people like me to achieve their dreams" - says 14-year-old Mathew* who did not let physical disability stop him from participating in the UN Games.

UNFPA Zambia Representative Ms Gift Malunga congratulates 14 year old Mathew* as he crossed the finish line