State authority representatives step into the shoes of people with disabilities to improve inclusive policy

December 1, 2023
Photo: Danylo Pavlov / UNDP in Ukraine

Kyiv, 1 December 2023 – In observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine and the Council of Europe Office in Ukraine, held an event to shed light on the daily challenges faced by people with disabilities. The "Dosvidchuttia" quest event emphasized the crucial need for accessibility and a barrier-free social environment.

The event was focused on three main goals. First, it aimed to highlight the needs of war survivor, especially the importance of helping people with disabilities during recovery and rebuilding efforts. Second, it called for action to remove barriers that prevent people with disabilities from fully participating in society. Finally, the event concentrated on improving services for survivors, working towards a better understanding of the everyday challenges they encounter.

During the event's opening, Jaco Cilliers, UNDP Resident Representative in Ukraine, stressed that UNDP strongly advocates for policies and practices that embody universal design principles, ensuring that environments, products, and services default to accessibility and inclusivity.

"As we gather to commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, our primary objective is to enhance awareness of disability issues and rally support for the dignity, rights, and well-being of individuals with disabilities. Everyone deserves favourable work environments, independent living arrangements, equal opportunities, and the right to participate fully in the life of their community. Our unwavering commitment to fostering resilient and inclusive development is especially crucial in empowering individuals with disabilities and injuries directly affected by the consequences of war."

Minister of Social Policy Oksana Zholnovych said that today, we briefly experienced the challenges that individuals with disabilities confront daily. 

"Numerous barriers exclude them from social processes, not by choice, but due to societal conditions. The war and its associated challenges have underscored the imperative of safeguarding the rights of people with disabilities. Presently, individuals with disabilities are often vibrant, active, and capable members of society, striving to remain integrated. For the Ministry of Social Policy, our primary focus is ensuring swift rehabilitation for those who have sustained injuries, facilitating their prompt return as fully-fledged members of society".

The central element of "Dosvidchuttia" was a quest installation designed to replicate the barriers that people with various disabilities often encounter, including hearing, vision, and physical disabilities. Invited participants, including representatives from Ministries, the office of the Commissioner of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for Human Rights, the Office of the President of Ukraine, deputies, and journalists, had the opportunity to experience the challenges faced by people with disabilities daily. They also were able to propose solutions.

Deputy Head of the Council of Europe Office in Ukraine, Erlend Falch, expressed gratitude to the organisers for the idea of such an event and its professional organisation, and noted that this event is particularly important for the Council of Europe, as it concerns human rights. 

"Ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities and their enjoyment without discrimination is embedded in the Article 15 of one of the key documents of the Council of Europe – the European Social Charter. We will continue to support our partners on the way to creating a barrier-free environment in Ukraine in accordance with European standards."

Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for the Barrier-Free Environment, Tetiana Lomakina, emphasized that we must remove barriers in spaces, services, information, and goods we purchase for public consumption.

"When forming norms and standards, it is important to consider the urgent needs of people with disabilities. And, of course, the established rules must contribute to eliminating barriers in the real world."

Background: UNDP co-organised the event within the project "Promoting Human Security in Ukraine through Responding to the Multidimensional Crisis Caused by War," with financial support from the government of Japan in partnership with the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, the Council of Europe Office in Ukraine, the NGO "Vidchui," and the NGO "Active Rehabilitation Group."

Media enquiries: Yuliia Samus, UNDP Ukraine Head of Communications; e-mail: