UN seeks Saudi Arabia help on rehabbing disabled |
Arab News - 05 July, 2012
The United Nations is to seek expertise on the measures taken by the Kingdom to provide job opportunities for people with disabilities.
“We have sought to focus on specific measures that countries like Saudi Arabia and others, together with NGOs, are implementing to support people with disabilities to get and keep jobs,” Angela Kerins, chief executive of the Rehab Group and a leading campaigner for the rights of people with disabilities, said at the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) 2012 High-level Segment Side Event, which took place yesterday at the UN Headquarters in New York.
Heidi Alaskary, consultant at the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) in Riyadh, outlined the progress that had been made on employment and inclusion of people with disabilities.
The event, which focused on “Employment — the key to social inclusion for people with disabilities,” was co-sponsored by the Rehab Group and the UN.
The Rehab Group is an international nongovernmental organization that provides a wide range of education, training and health services to over 60,000 people, with particular focus on people with disabilities and those who are disadvantaged.
According to Kerins, employment for people with disabilities must be a priority for every government, because it increases economic independence and significantly reduces the risk of poverty.
“There is an obvious economic argument, in addition to a social one, for supporting the employment of people with disabilities, as it reduces dependency and, therefore, reduces the states’ health, social care and welfare costs. Just because a person has a particular disability does not mean that they do not have many talents and skills and, when given the opportunity, can make a significant contribution to both economy and society.”
She said the current Millennium Development Goals did not include specific targets for people with disabilities. However, UN states should demonstrate their commitment to people with disabilities through the inclusion of a specific reference to the employment of people with disabilities in the Ministerial Declaration, which will emerge from this high-level segment. People with disabilities should not have to wait until the renewal of the goals in 2015 to get the recognition they deserve within the goals and objectives of the United Nations, she said.
“Promotion of the employment of people with disabilities makes sense for our economies, for our societies, and for the personal development of the individual concerned. We hope that this side event will have helped to significantly stimulate progress by states and NGOs alike in determining future solutions and actions in this area for the benefit of people with disabilities across the world.”
Developments in promoting the employment of people with disabilities in Saudi Arabia was the focus of Heidi A. Alaskary, who noted: “Saudi Arabia has a growing demographic of people with disabilities. Meaningful and sustainable employment is a natural and functional long-term goal that allows a person to achieve financial independence but, more importantly, an opportunity for inclusion in day-to-day life.”
“It is important for us in Saudi Arabia to continue to learn and start from where others have left off, and to build bridges and continue to bring in all the contributors and entries to achieve this goal,” Alaskary said.
A number of internationally distinguished speakers took part in the event, which took place as part of the 2012 Annual Ministerial Review of the substantive session of ECOSOC.
The review focused on “promoting productive capacity, employment and decent work to eradicate poverty in the context of inclusive, sustainable, equitable economic growth at all levels for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.”