Vienna, 2 December 2013 – "Persons with disabilities must be integrated in our society on an equal footing and be able to pro-actively demand their rights – in Austria and everywhere in the world", Austrian Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said referring to the International Day of People with Disability on 3 December 2013.
"We take the recommendations of the UN Committee that monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities very seriously. We received these recommendations on the occasion of the first national review on 2nd and 3rd September in Geneva. While major progress has been made over the past few years, there are still some obstacles – both in people's minds and in real life – that we must overcome on our way towards a veritably inclusive society", the Vice-Chancellor continued and underlined the good and exemplary cooperation with civil society. "I am grateful to the representatives of organisations of people with disabilities and to the monitoring committee for their commitment and constructive approach that have provided a significant input to the success of the inclusive work of the government."
80 percent of people with disabilities live in developing countries. Some 90 percent of children with disabilities living in emerging nations do not attend school. Women and children with disabilities often suffer under multiple discrimination and their risk of falling victim to abuse and violence is particularly high. Based on the twin-track approach, as it is called, the rights and needs of people with disabilities are to be considered in all programmes and projects of Austrian Development Cooperation as a fundamental requirement. Austria has been supporting programmes and projects tailored to promote people with disabilities for many years. These include eye surgeries and treatments, rehabilitation and inclusive education in Burkina Faso, or the improvement of social and economic conditions of life of people with disabilities in Southern Caucasus and Macedonia. The inclusion of people with disabilities in the post-2015 Development Agenda is another matter of great concern to Austria.
Opportunities for the future
The RESPOND-HER project in Ethiopia is at work with the aim of giving people with disabilities better opportunities on the labour market and ensuring their right to study at university. A research team from Addis Ababa University is evaluating the labour market situation in five Ethiopian cities and assessing the experience gained by students with disabilities. A network of eleven universities in various regions of the country is to draw the awareness of decision-makers to the difficulties that students and academics with disabilities have to face. At the same time, the status quo at all these universities is examined and the people in charge are to introduce first steps of improvement. RESPOND-HER is a joint project of the Addis Ababa University and Vienna University and is financed by the APPEAR cooperation programme of universities of Austrian Development Cooperation. "Education and jobs provide young people with an opportunity to lead a self-determined life", Spindelegger said.
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