Promoting inclusive development of women, girls with disabilities

Intro: Zhang Haidi, president of Rehabilitation International and chairperson of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation, said recently that one of the most important ways for women and girls with disabilities to live independently is through rehabilitation.

Zhang Haidi, president of Rehabilitation International and chairperson of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation (CDPF), speaks during an online meeting on July 1 as part of the Generation Equality Forum convened by UN Women. [Photo/China.org.cn]

“The 2030 Agenda aims to achieve fair, sustainable and disability-inclusive development, leaving no one behind. Of course, women and girls with disabilities should not be left behind,” said Yetnebersh Nigussie, a lawyer and disability rights activist from Ethiopia, when she presided over an online meeting on July 1 as part of the Generation Equality Forum convened by UN Women.

The meeting was held to accelerate progress toward gender equality and promote the inclusive development of women and girls with disabilities.

As a guest speaker, Zhang Haidi, president of Rehabilitation International and chairperson of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation (CDPF), explained that under the dual pressure of gender and disability, these women face more challenges and obstacles in education, employment and marriage.

She also expressed her belief that one of the most important ways for women and girls with disabilities to live independently is through rehabilitation, which can reshape their lives. It also empowers them to sit up, stand up, hear and see, thus regaining an independent life, she added.

The Chinese government guarantees the right of people with disabilities to receive basic rehabilitation services. Every year, it offers assistive devices to over 2.4 million people with disabilities, and rehabilitation assistance and training to nearly 300,000 children with disabilities. According to Zhang, more children with cochlear implants are also being included in regular schools.

Zhang added that she and organizations she works for attach great importance to the subsistence and development of women with disabilities.

Many inspiring events have been launched in recent times to raise awareness among the public to promote the equality and inclusive development of women and girls with disabilities, according to Zhang.

Last fall, the CDPF held a “Dialogue with Women with Disabilities” event, during which 20 women with disabilities shared their stories, which moved all those who took part.

“We issued a stamp named ‘Love & Care,’ the first in China themed around women with disabilities,” Zhang said. “We also launched an initiative to promote the inclusive development of women and girls with disabilities, which is supported by UN Women, UN ESCAP and Rehabilitation International.”

Zhang said that it is necessary to have an international cooperation mechanism in the post-pandemic era so that rights and interests of women and girls with disabilities could be defended. She also looked forward to innovations in science and technology, which she believes can improve rehabilitation services and their life quality, and help them embrace the beautiful life and beautiful world.