Occupied Palestinian territory | News | Mainstreaming the rights of people with disabilities in ministries in occupied Palestinian territory, February 2013

Mainstreaming the rights of people with disabilities in ministries in occupied Palestinian territory, February 2013

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Speakers at one of the seminars on mainstreaming teh rights of people with disability in occupied Palestinian territoryMainstreaming the rights of people with disabilities represents an investment in human capital21 February 2013, Ramallah – Seminars on mainstreaming the rights of persons with disabilities were held in Ramallah for government officials of occupied Palestinian territory and UN agencies from 18 to 19 February 2013. A WHO expert Chapal Khasnabis conducted the seminars, sponsored by WHO in the occupied Palestinian territory and Diakonia/NAD (Norwegian Association of the Disabled).

The rights of people with physical disabilities has received strong endorsement from the Palestinian Prime Minister who addressed the 50 participants from various ministries and disability groups.

WHO Representative for occupied Palestinian territory Tony Laurance, Diakonia/NAD Director Cecilia Angelid and the Palestinian Minister of Social Affairs, Majida Masri, also spoke about the importance of changing attitudes as well as policies and recognizing services for disabled persons as a right rather than charity. The seminar was facilitated by a WHO-Geneva expert Chapal Khasnabis, a specialist in community-based rehabilitation, as part of the WHO oPt Right to Health Advocacy project.

The second day’s seminar focused on mainstreaming within UN agencies. Representatives from the International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Special Coordinator Office for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), UNICEF and WHO participated in the discussion on how to initiate practical steps to mainstream disability within their agencies, as well as within their counterpart line ministries, focusing on employment policies, access and programme beneficiaries.

Two Palestinians with disabilities Shatha Abu Srour and Bashar Naser gave testimonials about how their lives were affected by the lack of access to services and their expectations that government and UN agencies could take the lead in improving the lives of people with physical disabilities in occupied Palestinian territory.

Khasnabis pointed out that mainstreaming disability represented an investment in human capital rather than a drain on resources, but that the biggest challenge is to change attitudes. He posed the question: “Do you have an inclusive heart, or do your current practices exclude people of diversity, such as people with disabilities? A community-based approach makes the best use of existing resources and includes persons with disability in programme design and development, monitoring and evaluation, so that they are not invisible.”

The prevalence rate of disability depends on whether one measures within a narrow or wide definition, and ranges in occupied Palestinian territory from 2.7% (114 000 persons) to 7% (300 000 persons), according to a survey carried out by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics in 2011.

Related link

Press release: mainstreaming the rights of people with disability in ministries in occupied palestinian territory