Towards an Inclusive Society: UNDP Morocco’s commitment in support of persons with disabilities

July 26, 2023

Imagine a world where every person, regardless of their disability, can thrive, actively participate, and fully contribute to society. In Morocco, this paradigm is becoming a reality, driven by the unwavering commitment of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in favor of persons with disabilities (PWDs). The inclusion of these individuals goes beyond mere aspiration; it is an imperative for building a truly equitable society, one that respects diversity and is founded on human rights.

Recent statistics from the High Commission for Planning (HCP), which is the national statistical office, reveal that in Morocco, 727,833 people live with a disability, representing 5.5% of the population. Despite the efforts made, numerous challenges persist in terms of social acceptance, access to services, and promotion of inclusive social participation. These obstacles primarily stem from social stigmatization, deeply ingrained discrimination, and widespread lack of awareness regarding a rights-based approach to disability by a significant portion of the population. In response to these issues, UNDP Morocco is resolutely committed to strengthening the capacities of PWDs, providing them with the opportunity to be more autonomous and independent in their daily lives.

In line with the Morocco's international commitments, the new constitution and the New Development Model, UNDP has actively supported Morocco in its efforts to guarantee access to rights and enhance the social participation of PWDs. In partnership with the Ministry of Solidarity, Social Development, Equality, and Family, significant actions have been taken to harmonize the state's intervention in promoting and protecting their rights. These joint efforts have led to significant achievements within the framework of a partnership focused on capacity-building for an integrated public policy in favor of PWDs. Among these achievements are upstream endeavours aimed at harmonizing the legal framework and standardizing sign language, as well as improving public services through the digitization of the disability certification process and the establishment of a national monitoring and evaluation system for better consideration of needs and progress made.

"If there is one lesson to be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the crucial importance of disability inclusion. More than ever, it is necessary to redouble efforts to place the rights and aspirations of persons with disabilities at the heart of our response. At UNDP Morocco, we are fully committed to this approach. We also applaud the efforts made by the Ministry of Solidarity, Social Development, Equality, and Family in implementing the necessary measures to support persons with disabilities and their families during the crisis," emphasized Dr. Edward Christow, UNDP Resident Representative in Morocco.

Within its office compound, UNDP Morocco has implemented several initiatives to ensure an inclusive and accessible environment for all. Significant measures have been taken to make all spaces accessible to PWDs. The country office has undertaken construction work to create wide passages free of obstacles and equipped with access ramps to facilitate the movement of people in wheelchairs and ensure smooth accessibility between different campus buildings. Specific modifications have also been made to restrooms to meet the needs of people with reduced mobility. This includes the installation of access ramps, support bars, adapted sinks, and toilets to ensure the comfort and safety of users with disabilities. Additionally, clearly marked parking spaces dedicated to PWDs have been created to provide them with easy and convenient access to the main buildings on the campus.

UNDP Morocco has also implemented an inclusive recruitment policy, aiming to provide equal opportunities to PWDs. By adopting non-discriminatory recruitment practices, the country office contributes to diversity and inclusion within its team while ensuring the purchase of specialized IT equipment, allowing two team members, with specific disability, to perform their duties with utmost efficiency and effectiveness.

To facilitate communication and interaction with visually impaired individuals, UNDP Morocco promotes the use of business cards incorporating braille. Through this simple yet effective approach, blind or visually impaired individuals can receive essential information such as contact details and job roles of personnel independently and fully participate in professional exchanges. The braille business cards are designed to enable tactile reading through raised characters representing key information.

"At UNDP Morocco, we are making every effort to ensure an inclusive campus where every individual, regardless of their disability, can fully participate and contribute to our mission. We have taken concrete measures to make our physical environment accessible by creating adapted facilities and ensuring space accessibility. We are also committed to promoting an inclusive recruitment policy, offering equal opportunities to all individuals, including those with disabilities. We firmly believe that each individual brings unique skills, and we seek to foster diversity and inclusion within our team," added Dr. Edward Christow.

In addition to tangible initiatives, UNDP Morocco conducts awareness-raising and training actions aimed at promoting a better understanding of disability-related issues, with the aim of eliminating stereotypes and prejudices, promoting empathy, and encouraging solidarity. Through its partnership with stakeholders, the country office is committed to continuing its awareness-raising activities, advocating for inclusive policies, and developing social protection mechanisms tailored to the specific needs of PWDs. Through this ongoing commitment, UNDP Morocco aspires to a more inclusive society, where the rights of each individual are fully respected, and where diversity is valued and celebrated. Undeniably, this commitment holds paramount importance in honoring the promise of the 2030 Sustainable Development Programme: to leave no one behind.