Spindelegger on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Vienna, 3 December 2012 – “People with disabilities should be able to take part in all aspects of life in a self-empowered way”, Austrian Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said on today’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities. “We must put an end to their social and economic marginalisation”, Spindelegger continued.
The World Health Organisation WHO estimates that people with disabilities account for some 15 percent of the world’s population. The majority of persons with disabilities live in developing countries, many of them suffer from poverty. The cycle of poverty and disability is often hard to break up. Chronic poverty, malnutrition and no access to adequate healthcare increase the probability of congenital diseases that may lead to disabilities. Poverty and its consequences, such as the lack of access to education, are often also the consequence of disabilities.
“In the framework of Austria’s membership in the UN Human Rights Council, we apply ourselves to the rights of persons with disabilities and continue to stress the importance of effective and full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Besides, Austria was one of the first states to submit a national report on the implementation of the convention to the UN”, the Vice-Chancellor said. The report will be reviewed by the UN Committee in charge in Geneva in September 2013.
“Many barriers are in the heads of those without disabilities”, Spindelegger said referring to discrimination and prejudice that need to be fought. “Awareness-raising is an important step forward; therefore we actively advocate participation and equal rights for people with disabilities.”
Austrian development cooperation supports specific projects and programmes that support the needs and rights of people with disabilities and also considers their concerns in its programmes and projects. “Persons with disabilities must be given the possibility to have a say with regard to their own lives and the development of their country. Education is key in this context, and is something we support in our development cooperation efforts – for example by promoting an integrated kindergarten in Bosnia and Herzegovina that is intended to give young people a better start in life”, Spindelegger concluded.
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