I am pleased to join you on this occasion as we approach the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December. This year, the UN is celebrating this special day with the theme of “Transformation towards Sustainable and Resilient Society for All”. It is based on the principle of ‘leaving no one behind’ of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.
People living with disabilities have the same rights as anyone else. Their inclusion in national policies and programmes, as well as their integration in the society, is essential so they are able to fully enjoy their rights and benefit from all the available opportunities.
One of the key instruments in promoting the rights of persons with disabilities is the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and I would like to congratulate the Government of Tajikistan for the decision to sign the Convention before the end of this year and to ratify it by 2020.
In addition, the Agenda 2030, adopted unanimously by all Member States of the UN in 2015 emphasizes disability-inclusive development that directly contributes to 17 SDGs to eradicate poverty and inequality, provide quality education, health and create jobs and enable equal access to justice. It is important that men, women and children living with disabilities are included as a target group in the national road map to implement SDGs.
We hope that the recently adopted National Programme on Rehabilitation of Persons with Disabilities in Tajikistan for 2017-2020 will also serve as the basis to ensure their access to services, transportation, jobs and other opportunities.
However, the biggest challenge that people living with disabilities face is stigma and discrimination by society, which not only results in exclusion, but also violence and psychological problems. Investment in public awareness and creating a tolerant society, which respects differences is essential.
Equally necessary is participation of people with disabilities in public policy making, investing in empowering CSOs, Disabled People’s Organisations and increasing their access to information through appropriated means of communication.
The Government of Republic of Tajikistan has taken many steps to enhance services for persons living with disabilities in recent years. However, a lot more needs to be done.
We need to shift away from a charity approach to a human rights-based approach in line with the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and engage in communication for social change to promote social and economic inclusion of adults and children with disabilities, as well as create enabling environment so they can benefit from social, economic, cultural and other opportunities.We need to engage them in national development so they are able to fulfill their aspirations and dreams.