Stefan Priesner: Speech for the Festival on the Occasion of the UN Day of Persons with Disabilities

Dec 2, 2015

It is a great pleasure to see here today our partners both from Government and civil society organizations.

Tomorrow, on December 3 the whole World will celebrate the International day of persons with disabilities. And we are glad to be the part of the process of promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities in Uzbekistan.

We are all vulnerable to disability, temporary or permanent, especially as we grow older. In most countries, at least one person in 10 is disabled by physical, mental or sensory impairment. A quarter of the global population is directly affected by disability, as care-givers or family members.

Women make up three-quarters of the disabled people in low and middle income countries, and between 65 and 70 percent of those women live in rural areas. The Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities recognizes that women and girls with disabilities are often at greater risk of discrimination then men with disabilities, both within and outside the home, of violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation.  

The global literacy rate for adults with disabilities is as low as 3 per cent, and 1 per cent for women with disabilities.

People with disabilities in general face difficulties in entering the open labour market, but, seen from a gender perspective, men with disabilities are almost twice as likely to have jobs as women with disabilities.

Moreover, women with disabilities are more likely institutionalized than men with disabilities.

Unlike most other women, women with disabilities also face restrictions on their right to have children. Involuntary sterilizations of women with physical and/or mental disabilities continue in many countries. In addition, doctors, family members, and others routinely advise women with disabilities to avoid or terminate pregnancy, even when these women demonstrate the desire and the ability to bear and raise children.

Often, women with disabilities are invisible both among those promoting the rights of persons with disabilities, and those promoting gender equality and the advancement of women. To address this concern, the Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities has also taken a two track approach to promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women with disabilities. It has as one of its principles equality between men and women, and it devotes an article to women with disabilities.

Underlying the double discrimination is negative attitudes about women compounded by negative attitudes toward disability that often cut across cultures and level of development. That is why this event focuses on the theme “Girls and women with different abilities.” When you look at the photos of girls and women with disabilities presented at our exhibition, you won’t see the weakness or absence of ability, but you will rather observe the power of charm, a wealth of wisdom and unlimited amount of kindness that reside inside of each of these individuals.

The United Nations advocates for universal human rights and development for all as fundamental goals and as essential foundations for peace, security and prosperity. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which entered into force in 2008, is one of our most important tools to advance this cause. We must continue to work for its ratification, implementation and its universality.

On this International Day, let us pledge to break down the barriers to participation and access which girls and women with disabilities face in their daily lives. 

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