Influential Chinese author assumes presidency of Rehabilitation International
Zhang Haidi, Chairwoman of the Chinese Disabled Persons’ Federation, assumed the role as president of RI – Rehabilitation International – at the 23rd RI World Congress held in Edinburgh on Thursday.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the RI World Congress, Zhang Haidi said rehabilitation has great significance in helping disabled people to reintegrate into society.
“Today, rehabilitation is already an integral part of human health. An injured person could be reborn through rehabilitation and thus reintegrated into the society. I firmly believe that the work of rehabilitation has great significance and profound implications to one billion persons with disabilities across the world.”
Zhang Haidi served as head of the Chinese Paralympic delegation for the 2016 Rio Olympics. In her speech at the RI Congress, she said China has made tremendous progress in improving the lives of people with disabilities over the past 30 years.
“Their living conditions have seen visible improvement. The poverty-stricken disabled population is decreasing. Most provinces or autonomous regions have already built up their own rehabilitation centers. Many disabled children had access to inclusive education.”
Born in Shandong Province, Zhang Haidi has been living with paraplegia since the age of five. She was self-educated and has become a well known author and translator. She is also included in the list of the world’s most influential disabled people which was announced at the congress.
Jan Monsbakken, former president of RI, said he has great expectations for Zhang Haidi’s presidency during the coming four years. He believes Zhang Haidi and CDPF will make a big impact on the works of RI.
“This is the right time that we have a Chinese in the front seat to take RI into new dimensions and to new heights in its development. Remember we will be 100 years old in 2022 which is also the same year China is to host the Winter Olympics in Beijing. I’m sure that within 2022 we will become an even more successful organization under the new leadership.”
The RI World Congress is held every four years. Founded in 1922 and based in New York, RI is a non-governmental organization committed to advocating for the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities. The theme of this year’s congress is “Creating a more inclusive world” and the three-day event has attracted 1000 delegates from more than 60 countries.