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International Day of Persons with Disabilities

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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, December 4, 2018/ — The Economic Commission for Africa’s management is committed to ensuring that people with disabilities have the right support to access all services, technologies and systems at the institution and that their rights are fully realized, Executive Secretary Vera Songwe said Monday. 

Speaking at an event to mark the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities which this year was held under the theme; Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality, Ms. Songwe said the observation of this day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. 

This year’s theme, she said, focuses on empowering persons with disabilities for the inclusive, equitable and sustainable development envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

“By marking this day, we also seek to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life. We also need to be cognisant that there are hidden disabilities we may not see; including physical, mental, emotional and intellectual. Reasonable accommodation is a basic responsibility for all,” the Executive Secretary said. 

“The 2030 Agenda pledges to “leave no one behind”. Persons with disabilities, as both beneficiaries and agents of change, can fast track the process towards inclusive and sustainable development and promote resilient society for all, including in the context of disaster risk reduction and humanitarian action, and urban development. “ 

The 2018 UN Flagship Report on Disability and Development on the theme; Realizing the SDGs by, for and with persons with disabilities, was launched by the Secretary-General yesterday. 

The Report shows that people with disabilities are at a disadvantage regarding most Sustainable Development Goals, but also highlights the growing number of good practices that can create a more inclusive society in which they can live independently. 

“Here at the ECA, the Accessibility Task Force which was set up in 2016 is working to ensure that in keeping with the Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, persons with disabilities have equal access to the physical environment,” Ms. Songwe said. 

The Task Force chose the theme; Accessibility on the move to mark the day. They have also put together a photo exhibition to help promote inclusion and accessibility, and to showcase the activities and future plans of the Task Force at the ECA. The exhibition, which was unveiled on 26 November runs until 7 December 2018. 

The ES thanked Mr. Marian Mizkiel and the rest of the Task Force for the work they have done so far in ensuring that persons with disabilities in the compound have the right support to access all services and for putting the exhibition together. 

“I would like to assure you of the management commitment to ensuring that that persons with disabilities have the right support to access to all services and to technologies and systems,” said Ms. Songwe. 

In his message to mark the day, Secretary General Antonio Gutterres reaffirmed the UN’s commitment to work together for a better world that is inclusive, equitable and sustainable for everyone, where the rights of people with disabilities are fully realized. 

In its pledge to leave no one behind, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development represents a commitment to reducing inequality and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, including people with disabilities, he said. 

“That means implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in all contexts and in all countries. It also means integrating the voices and concerns of people with disabilities into national agendas and policies.” 

More than 1 billion people in the world live with some form of disability.

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