The two-day meeting hosted by Catalina Devandas-Aguilar, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, discusses measures being taken by states and initiatives emerging at grassroots level on how to support inclusion and equal participation of persons with disabilities.

In her opening remarks, Devandas-Aguilar emphasized the need to have approach that promotes rights, participation and active citizenship.

“Whether it is targeted or mainstream services, for most persons with disabilities, effective access to support represents an essential condition for the realization of their human rights, while preserving their inherent dignity, autonomy and independence,” Devandas-Aguilar said.

“Education and employment, political participation, decision-making, mobility, communication and leisure are just a few areas to mention where support is crucial.”

The meeting provides a platform to learn from each other and work in collaboration on how the African community can support the rights of persons with disabilities, according to the Special Rapporteur.

“I am very interested in exploring the roles of social networks and communities in the delivery of support services for persons with disabilities,” said Devandas-Aguilar.

“Support provided at the community level and delivered with the involvement of organizations of persons with disabilities is the best way to ensure their active participation in society,” she added.

Speaking at the opening session, Shuaib Chalken, Chairperson of the African Disability Forum, called for collaborated efforts to eradicate poverty at national level to improve the lives of persons with disabilities on the African continent.

He underlined that African governments could build the necessary capacities and allocate resources to achieve poverty eradication at the national level.

The regional meeting held at UN Conference Centre in Addis Ababa has brought together experts, policy makers and advocates from a dozen African countries, including the board members of the African Disability Forum, human rights specialists from the African Union, the United Nations and those from the academia and civil society.

The findings of the meeting are expected to inform the Special Rapporteur’s next report to the Human Rights Council, to be presented in March 2017.

The report will focus on the provision of support services that are sustainable, qualitative, affordable and accessible to persons with disabilities. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/News Ghana

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