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Striving towards Sustainable and Resilient Society for All: Persons with Disabilities – in Focus of UN Armenia

The International Day marked with exhibition-sale and round-table discussion

To mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and to enhance the entrepreneurial initiatives of persons with disabilities, UN in Armenia, loyal to its traditions, organized a sale-exhibition of handicrafts of adults and children with disabilities. The exhibition was open from 4 to 6 December, and supported by a number of partner DPOs - “Unison”, “Astghatsolk”, “Mairi”, “Prkutiun”,”Source”, “My way”, “Armenian Deaf Society” as well as Kharberd Orphanage for children with disabilities. The exhibition created a great space for the partners from international and donor community, governmental agencies, civil society and media to get together to enjoy the wealth of art-works created by children and adults with disabilities and for socializing.

In his opening speech, Mr. Dmitri Mariassin, UN Development Program Deputy Representative, indicated: “We at the United Nations Office in Armenia work with Government and civil society, academia and persons with disability organizations to join our efforts and work as a “team” “not to leave anyone behind”, to create the opportunities for everyone’s equal participation and inclusion and together achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

Mr.  Smbat Saiyan, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, noted that by signing and ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Armenia committed to create equal opportunities and enhance participation of persons with disabilities in all spheres of life. Many achievements of recent years, which, of course, are not completely satisfactory, but are a step forward, come to prove this.

Jemma Baghdasaryan, MP of the National Assembly of RA, and member of the Standing Committee on Health Care and Social Affairs of NA, mentioned that marking this Day is not just a way of encouraging persons with disabilities but also means to voice their issues.  While refferring to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the process of nationalization of SDG framework, Ms Baghdasaryan highlighted, that most of the SDG targets and indicators are touching upon the problems of persons of this group, and Armenia will strive to reach those.

The exhibition-sale of the handcrafts created by children and adults with disabilities hosted by UN House in Armenia was concluded with a roundtable discussion titled “Empower Women and Girls: Striving towards sustainable and resilient society for all.” The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the main issues that women and girls with disabilities face and the ways to jointly progress towards empowerment and creation of equal opportunities. The discussion was also a continuation of the initiatives in the frame of 16 Days Campaign against Gender-based violence.”

Ms. Nelly Duryan, Head of the 3rd Department of the General Criminal Persecution Department of the RA Police, Ms. Liv Elin Indreiten, UNICEF Deputy Representative, and Ms. Marine Malkhasyan, UNDP Project Coordinator, opened up the discussion highlighting the importance of initiating a public discourse around the topic.

During the discussion women and girls with disabilities shared their stories regarding the issues of discrimination, the rights for reproductive health, women economic empowerment and participation. UNDP and UNICEF will take this process forward in the framework of their projects and in the overall UN discourse on development and women rights, bringing a targeted gender equality and gender sensitive dimension in policy making on the issues of persons with disabilities and beyond.

Since 1992, December 3 marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities around the world. This is yet another occasion to reflect about the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities and find avenues for their full participation in social, economic, political and cultural life of our society. The theme selected for this year is “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all.”