Dear Deputy Minister,

Dear partners, colleagues and friends,

 

Thank you all for joining us at this important event to mark the International Day of People with Disabilities.

Disability inclusion is an essential condition of upholding human rights, sustainable development, peace and security. It is also central to the promise made in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to ‘leave no one behind’.

Our shared commitment to advancing the rights of people with disabilities is an investment in our common future.

In line with this commitment, UNDP and the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Population launched a self-employment programme in 2019 designed to help over 500 people with disabilities to start their own businesses.

Another highlight of our strong support for disability inclusion is the Inclusive Vocational Art and Craft Training Centre in the Old Town of Baku. Established last year with the help of EU funding, the Centre has already provided opportunities for some 70 students with disabilities to develop their art skills and make new friends with other children both with and without disabilities.

Our most recent project – and the one that has brought us all here today as part of this International Day of People with Disabilities – is aimed at creating employment opportunities for women with disabilities and veterans of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

As a result of this project, implemented together with our excellent partners from the Ministry of Labour and UNFPA – under the initiative of the First Vice President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ms. Mehriban Aliyeva - 2,500 vulnerable people in Azerbaijan will gain greater access to employment opportunities and skills development.

Last year we have helped set up Azerbaijan’s first-ever inclusive Art School in Baku.

And today we will be launching a first ever Virtual Skills Development and Training Lab. This lab will help people with disabilities gain better access to skills-training, knowledge and employment opportunities through the application of innovation and technology.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is deepening pre-existing inequalities, exposing the extent to which people with disabilities are excluded, further highlighting the crucial importance of integrated efforts to ensure disability inclusion.

This is exactly what this project is achieving – and I would like to use this opportunity to thank the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection and our sister-agency UNFPA for their tireless support and commitment to further advancing this important cause.

Over the course of today’s event, many of you will be showcasing practical examples of how people with disabilities have achieved greater empowerment for themselves and how their lives have changed as a result.

I am confident that this will further inspire our joint efforts to continue both online and offline, so that we reach the furthest behind first.

Thank you for your attention.

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