Zhang Haidi delivers keynote speech at UN Commission for Social Development event

Championing the rights of people with disabilities in China and around the world was one of the many topics discussed at a panel event during the annual UN Commission for Social Development in New York on January 31.

Zhang Haidi, Chairwoman of China Disabled Persons’ Federation (CDPF) and President of Rehabilitation International (RI), shared in the experiences and progress made in China during her keynote speech.

Paralyzed at the age of five, Zhang is among the 85 million Chinese living with disabilities she aims to help through her work and government cooperation.

“As president of Rehabilitation International, I have worked with my colleagues to serve more persons with disabilities, women and children in particular,” Zhang said at the UN side event, titled “Realizing equal rights and inclusive development.”

Zhang also touched on RI’s cooperation with organizations in other countries. “We have set up RI Africa Fund and launched rehabilitation programs to make our fellows in Africa also feel the warmth of our human community,” said Zhang.

During her speech, Zhang addressed the challenges of meeting the 2030 agenda proposed by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

In addition to effective statistical monitoring and increased international exchanges, Zhang called for setting up a World Disability Organization to help the more than 1 billion people living with disabilities worldwide.

“A fairly large number of them, especially the elderly, women and children, are living in straitened circumstances. Their voices should be heard and their wishes respected. We should set up World Disability Organization to help those in need and leave no one behind.”

Now in its 56th session, this year’s UN Commission for Social Development included four high-level panel discussions and more than 60 multilateral meetings. A series of resolutions and drafts were approved in this year’s session.