25 years of Independent Living in Sverige
Welcoming address by Kerstin Nilsson, vice chair STIL, 28.11.2008
Good morning dear guests and welcome to this international conference, ”25 years of Independent Living in Sweden” here in Stockholm.
And I want at this time announce that you later today will receive yet another welcome to Stockholm – and then it will be from the Mayor of Stockholm. The mayor represents the City of Stockholm, which on its webpage promises that within 13 months, that is the year 2010, be the world’s most accessible capital!
So remember to great him with a great round of applauses so when we meet next time here in Stockholm we will be invited to a fully accessible City Hall – it does not necessary have to be to the Nobel festivities.
I am honored to welcome you to this conference to celebrate that the Independent Living movement has existed for 25 years in Sweden now, but above all we will learn from each other during these two days, about our respective experiences of Independent Living and of how we as persons with different disabilities deal with the challenges we face daily. My name is Kerstin Nilsson and I am the vice chair of STIL – STIL which stands for [Stiftarna av Independent Living I Sverige] the founders of Independent Living in Sweden.
To the right of me Ulrik Lindgren is sitting, political advisor at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Welfare with responsibility for a major part of the area of disability policy, and to the left I have Bengt Westerberg, who among his appointments is chair of the Swedish Red Cross – but Bengt earlier was minister of social affairs in Sweden and he was responsible for what in Sweden often calls “the reform of the century” for us with disabilities; the Personal Assistance Act of 1994. Welcome Ulrik Lindgren and Bengt Westerberg.
Last but not least Adolf Ratzka is here by my side – Adolf the initiator of Independent Living in Sweden. I assume that Bengt also will touch on this in his speech on how the reform on personal assistance was launched.
Together with our international guests – who I want to especially great and who will be presented later – we representatives of the Swedish Independent Living movement together with trusted persons from within the Swedish public administration, the research community and the political sphere will discuss how to develop a successful strategy for the Independent Living movement. It is with great joy I meet all of you who is here – welcome.
Some of the questions which we all both have to pose and try to answer according to our best ability is;
- how successful has the Independent Living movement been so far in our countries?
- what actual goals has the Independent Living movement in our countries?
Within the political debate we often hear that the integration has to be improved; equal rights will be offered to all, all will have equal opportunities. The quality of our welfare system is decided by how successful we are reaching these goals – and here the Independent Living movement has a huge responsibility not only within the debate but also to work on and push for the realisation of practical solutions.
As persons with disabilities we have constituted an excluded group throughout history – and that is why it is an evident and comprehensive goal for us to fight this exclusion!
The Independent Living movement encourages individuals to take initiative, to strive after responsibility over their own lives.
One of the Independent Living movement’s most important tasks is to convince society that persons with disabilities shall be seen – not as passive recipients of different welfare benefits – but as individuals who shall be encouraged to actively work to create their own future.
Thank you so much and hereby I give the floor to Ulrik Lindgren, political advisor at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Welfare.
[translated to english from swedish text]