National symposium on the rights of persons with disabilities

29 Nov 2010

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A National Symposium on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was held in joint cooperation between the Ministry of Social Development, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the National Committee for Disabled Persons Affairs. The symposium was convened to coincide with the Kingdom's celebrations of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3rd.

The Symposium aimed to inform ministries and non-governmental institutions of international mechanisms and agreements, and to review a range of important concerns; including the issues of women with disabilities, children with disabilities and community-based rehabilitation programmes.

At the opening ceremony, H.E. Dr. Fatima Al Balooshi, Minister of Social Development, elaborated that “the Symposium seeks to inform ministries and non-governmental institutions of international mechanisms and agreements, and to review a range of important concerns; including the issues of women with disabilities, children with disabilities and community-based rehabilitation programmes.”

The Symposium is an activity under the joint UNDP/Ministry of Social Development Project: Development of a National Strategy for Persons with Disabilities. The Strategy will be developed to comply with the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Bahrain has already signed and is seeking to ratify. This will ensure that the Strategy takes a human rights and development approach to disability, focusing on the removal of barriers to equal participation and the elimination of discrimination based on disability. The Development of a National Strategy for Persons with Disabilities for the Kingdom of Bahrain will take note of the current situation with its strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities in order to make sure it responds to all concerns, and builds on the successful implementation achieved.

“This Symposium is in line with UNDP’s commitment to the importance of active participation of all relevant parties in the development of policies and programs. All stakeholders will participate in the development of this strategy through the submission of proposals to its working teams, through written proposals, or through participation in associated workshops and awareness-raising activities” said Firas Gharaibeh, Deputy Resident Representative.

Over 100 participants attended the two-day symposium comprising government representatives, NGOs, and activists.

An understanding of disability as a human rights and development issue leads to a recognition and acknowledgement that persons with disabilities are equal citizens and should therefore enjoy equal rights and responsibilities. This implies that resources must be employed in such a way as to ensure that every individual has equal opportunities for his or her full and effective participation and inclusion in society. It further implies that the needs of every individual are of equal importance, and that needs must be made the basis for planning. Persons with disabilities should also have equal obligations within society and should be given the support necessary to enable them to exercise their responsibilities. The Strategy must commit society to moving forward in a way that guarantees that persons with disabilities are treated with dignity and respect and recognizes fully their place in society.

The Development of a National Strategy for Persons with Disabilities for the Kingdom of Bahrain will take note of the current situation with its strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities in order to make sure it responds to all the concerns and builds on the successful implementation so far. It will include statistics and disaggregated data, including for age and gender. The Strategy is an opportunity to enhance the status of persons with disabilities and further enhance the quality of their lives. The aim is to provide a vision for the future and serve as reference documents for policy makers, professionals and practitioners working with and for children and persons with disabilities and for parents, children and persons with disabilities themselves.