Zhang Haidi, president of Rehabilitation International (RI) and chairperson of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation (CDPF), delivered a video speech during the Regional Forum on Advancing Disability-inclusive Development on Dec. 3.
The forum was hosted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), and it was at the invitation of Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, executive secretary of UN ESCAP, that Zhang made the speech.
In her address to the forum, Zhang said that on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the forum brings warmth and inspiration to numerous persons with disabilities and their families, like sending the hope of spring on a cold winter day.
Persons with disabilities are one of the most difficult groups, whose life has been hardest hit by the epidemic, and their rights and interests should be strengthened in epidemic response, especially those of children with disabilities in areas seriously hit by the pandemic, Zhang said.
UN ESCAP, CDPF and RI jointly worked on a two-year program called “Protecting and Empowering Persons with Disabilities in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic”, rendering support to persons with disabilities in the Asia-Pacific region in their fight against the virus, she stressed.
Recently, CDPF and RI have started to build a brand project called “To-beautify Workshop” for persons with disabilities. In these workshops, they can raise their economic status through embroidery, knitting and paper-cut, and thus lead a better-off and more decent life, Zhang said.
Since the epidemic broke out, RI has cooperated with UN ESCAP, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and World Health Organization (WHO) on hearing, sexual and reproductive health, and accessibility programs of persons with disabilities. With support of the Global Disability Development Fund and Africa Fund, member organizations of RI have carried out 30 projects benefiting local persons with disabilities.
Zhang said that the RI and CDPF are ready to work with UN ESCAP to promote the inclusive development of persons with disabilities in the post-COVID-19 era.