Distinguished Mr. Liang YOU, Director General, International Affairs Department of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation
Distinguished partners, friends, colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Since 1992, the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities has been annually observed on this day - 3 December around the world. On behalf of the United Nations Country Team in China, it is my great pleasure to open the China Disability Policy Dialogue, organized on this special occasion.
The theme for this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities is “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.”
This theme focuses on the empowering persons with disabilities for the inclusive, equitable and sustainable development envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The 2030 Agenda, pledging to “leave no one behind,” is an ambitious plan of action of the international community towards a peaceful and prosperous world, where dignity of an individual person and equality among all is applied as the fundamental principle.
It is critical to ensure, in this regard, the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and create enabling environments by, for and with persons with disabilities.
The year 2018 marks the ten-year anniversary since China ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. China has made great strides in its efforts to promote the rights and inclusion of its 85 million persons with disabilities.
We are pleased to note, in the most recent National Report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council, the government reported that, during the 2013- 2017 period, 5.38 million persons with disabilities were lifted out of poverty.
The compulsory education enrolment rate for children with visual, hearing or mental disabilities exceeds 90 per cent through special education promotion programmes.
Since 2013, the Chinese Government has established more than 6,000 vocational skills training institutions for persons with disabilities.
This could not be achieved without a strong and committed government and dedicated representative organizations of persons with disabilities – the China Disabled Persons’ Federation and the DPOs, the academic institutions, the civil society, the media as well as the private sector partners.
Today we gather here to celebrate their achievements. More importantly, we come together to learn from the best practices and examine what remains to be done, at the policy level and at the community level, to reach and include those who have been left behind in these positive developments.
It is our objective that persons with disabilities are empowered to fully and equally participate in China’s development process, so that the Sustainable Development Goals are realized not only for persons with disabilities, but also by and with persons with disabilities.
In May last year, revisions to the Regulations on the Education of Persons with Disabilities, originally passed in 1994, came into force. The Revised Regulations promotes the concept of inclusive education, opening up mainstream schools to students with disabilities. However, many schools, especially those in the rural areas, still lack accessible facilities and trained teachers who are prepared for children with special needs in the classrooms.
Education is correlated with the employability. Although the government provides tax deductions and has set up a quota system for the employment of persons with disabilities, many do not meet the basic educational requirements for a labor market increasingly demanding. Moreover, companies are not equipped with the facilities and technologies to include employees with disabilities.
The United Nation System in China has been and will continue to support Chinese stakeholders in addressing such gaps and challenges, in employment, education, health, access to justice, social security, accessibility and media reporting for persons with disabilities, including through the UN Partnership to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD) China programme.
Started in 2014, the UNPRPD project - implemented by five UN Agencies including the ILO, UNESCO, UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA, has played an important role in shifting attitudes and building the capacity of key policy influencers and service providers, advising on laws and policies through evidence-based research, as well as raising the public awareness on the disability inclusion and equality.
The UN Subgroup on Disability, established in 2015, was also a result of the PRPD project. Chaired by UNESCO, and currently co-chaired by WHO, it is a unique, comprehensive multi-stakeholder platform, bringing together representatives from UN entities, international NGOs, embassies, multilateral and bilateral organizations, CDPF, NGOs and DPOs, and the private sector for open dialogue, consultation, information exchange, partnership and joint actions. Many of you are members of the Sub-group. We thank you for your continuous participation and contribution.
The 2018 China Disability Policy Dialogue provides an opportunity to take stock of progress, and to further identify and discuss pressing issues in the disability agenda, zooming in the transformation from protection to empowerment through policy interventions and the initiatives and best practices from the disability community.
As the United Nations, we must lead by example. As requested by the Secretary General António Guterres, the UN has started a process aiming to ensure that our work is fully inclusive of persons with disabilities both through our programmatic work, and within our organizations. It is my pleasure to say that the UN Country Team in China was one of the first to take part in a country-level assessment for collecting and aggregating information in this regard, and was also one of the first countries to take concrete steps to develop and implement a disability mainstreaming strategy. We do count on your support.
Lastly, let me express our gratitude to the Fairmont Hotel Beijing for their generous sponsorship in hosting this important event. I trust that the sharing and discussion today will contribute towards further multi-stakeholder collaborative actions on creating a more inclusive, accessible, and discrimination-free society for persons with disabilities in China, in order to “leave no one behind.”
Thank you very much.