By Wang Yanfang
Intro: Rehabilitation International (RI) organized a series of events and forums in Beijing from May 19 to 23 to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
Rehabilitation International (RI) hosted a series of events and forums in Beijing, from May 19 to 23, in honor of its 100th anniversary, according to a press conference in Beijing on May 16, 2023.
Zhang Haidi, RI president and chairperson of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation (CDPF), detailed the event’s preparation, primary event lineup, and its significant implications. She also responded to journalists’ inquiries.
Zhang noted that since RI’s inception in 1922, the organization has championed the protection of human health, life integrity, and the rights of individuals with disabilities. It has made substantial contributions to the inclusive development of individuals with disabilities worldwide.
The centennial festivities featured a high-level opening ceremony, Rehabilitation International Award for Outstanding Achievements and Centennial Award for Significant Contributions ceremonies, a strategic seminar, eight sub-forums, a themed forum on disability issues in Belt and Road countries, and the Care and Rehabilitation Expo China 2023. These activities aimed to highlight the progress made in the international disability cause over the last century.
Zhang pointed out that as the oldest organization promoting rehabilitation services for people with disabilities and community rehabilitation, RI plays an important role in promoting inclusive development and equal engagement of people with disabilities. She also emphasized that RI has launched international competitions specifically for people with disabilities.
Zhang revealed that a centenary declaration would be presented to the world by RI at the May 21 opening ceremony. The declaration urges societies, countries and regions globally to respect human diversity and rights, endorse the equal participation of people with disabilities in world affairs, and advance comprehensive development to create a society characterized by peace, inclusiveness and goodwill. Additionally, the declaration symbolizes holding the humanitarian torch at this historic juncture to illuminate the path of inclusive development for people with disabilities.
Under Zhang’s leadership, RI has embraced continual growth through reform and innovation. With the Chinese government’s support, RI, a non-profit NGO, has established the Global Disability Development Fund, the Africa Fund, and has launched over 30 welfare projects benefiting people with disabilities worldwide in recent years.
China has actively worked to promote international assistance for people with disabilities. The Chinese government has enacted measures to enhance living conditions for people with disabilities, aligning with the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
China has also supported the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in launching the Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities. The country has successfully hosted two themed activities within the Belt and Road Initiative and has inked cooperative agreements with numerous countries to strengthen ties related to disability issues.
The University of Rehabilitation Sciences has been built to an advanced standard, cultivating top-tier professionals in China.
Teuta Rexhepi, RI’s secretary general, stated that the Awards for Outstanding Achievements were established in 2019 under Zhang Haidi’s proposal. The awards honor individuals and organizations that have significantly contributed to protecting rights and inclusive development of individuals with disabilities.
Centennial Awards for Significant Contributions were introduced to recognize 100 representative individuals and organizations for their contributions to rehabilitation and development. The awards also aim to foster global attention and support towards improving the lives and development of people with disabilities, while promoting their equal participation and comprehensive development.