On May 15th, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) organized a webinar on protecting and empowering persons with disabilities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are about 690 million persons with disabilities in Asia and the Pacific region. The webinar took place aiming to identify policy gaps and challenges in addressing the acute and longer-term needs of persons with disabilities and explore how governments, organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDs), private sector entities and other stakeholders can jointly design and implement policy solutions to protect and empower persons with disabilities to deal with the impacts of COVID-19.
At the invitation of ESCAP, RI President Zhang Haidi attended the webinar and first delivered a speech among 5 panelists respectively from UN agencies, government officials and UN country teams.
Madam Haidi introduced that on behalf of RI, she has written to ESCAP Executive Secretary as well as President of the UN General Assembly, UN Secretary-General, WHO Director-General, Chair of the Bureau of the Conference of State Parties to the CRPD and leaders of other international organizations concerned, calling upon the international community to protect the rights and interests of disabled people in the pandemic responses. UNGA President wrote back that he would work with UN member states, and take actions to control the virus and mitigate its impacts on society and economy, especially on persons with disabilities.
She announced that RI EC members have agreed to allocate 200,000 US dollars on joint projects with ESCAP for the protection and empowerment of persons with disabilities in this region during and after the pandemic.
Madam Haidi made three proposals against fighting against the pandemic: first, to respect and protect disabled persons’ rights to life and health; second, to protect persons with disabilities against the virus; third, to enhance international cooperation. She once again emphasized that RI will continue to support and echo the UN and ESCAP’s initiatives and actions in the disability-related field, and make due contribution to disability inclusion. Through solidarity and cooperation, the goal of “leave no one behind” will be achieved.
Mr. Kaveh Zahedi, Deputy Executive Secretary of ESCAP and Ms. Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes, Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General on Disability and Accessibility also delivered speeches at the webinar. The webinar brought together an array of government officials, experts, advocates and practitioners to explore innovative solutions on mainstreaming disability inclusion into pandemic policy measures.