'İnovasyon Engelleri Aşar' Etkinliği


Kamal Malhotra
United Nations Resident Coordinator,Turkey
Resident Representative, UNDP Turkey at Side Event ‘Innovation Enables’ organized by the Ministry of Family and Social Policies of Turkey on the occasion of the High Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Realization of the Millenium Development Goals and Other Internationally Agreed Development Goals for Persons with Disabilities

Excellency Madame Minister, Our private sector and civil society partners,
Dear Guests,

UNDP’s approach towards disability is fully aligned with the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Deeply rooted in the Charter of the UN, the Convention emphasizes that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms without any distinction. It is a human rights instrument with an explicit, development dimension. It is a strong tool which provides guidance for State parties who have acceded to it, who number about 125 at present.

The Convention marked a major step forward, as it embodies a paradigm shift, from a charitable or medical approach to disability to one which is firmly rooted in human rights. It establishes that discrimination against any person on the basis of disability is a violation of the rights, as well as the dignity of the human person.

It recognizes that Disability is an evolving concept and it mainly results from the interaction of citizens with certain impairments with the rest of their communities and the social/environmental barriers hindering their full participation in society.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We all now agree that disability is a human rights issue. It is broadly acknowledged that societies lose many opportunities if certain segments of the population are excluded.

The world is increasingly recognizing that it is extremely important for citizens with disabilities to be autonomous and independent, and to make their own choices and contribute to society.

Developing policies for integrating people with disability in society helps constructively utilize a significant untapped potential and allows us to benefit from the world’s diversity, creating a better world.

There are many reasons for this. Imagine how much stronger the world would be if the rights of the more than 1 billion people living with disabilities, or more than 15% of the world’s population, are respected, protected and fulfilled. Only when they have the opportunities they deserve, can they generate ideas, products and inspire millions of others. As was the case with the athletes during the last Olympic games for people with disabilities!

Let me now briefly turn to UNDP’s contribution in Turkey. We work both to support policies, and also to create good, practicable and replicable best practice projects which can be scaled up and also influence policy design.

We work with the Government of Turkey’s Ministry of Family and Social Policies to strengthen the government’s capacity to implement and monitor the UNCRPD.  We have also joined forces with our private sector and civil society partners to create models that empower people with disability and help them smoothly integrate in society.

It is  good to see that, as a recent signatory to the UNCRPD, the Turkish Government, and more specifically the Ministry of Family and Social Policies - the national focal point - is keen to strengthen the rights of people with disabilities.

Our partnership with the Ministry is largely built around establishing the monitoring systems that will be extremely important for policy making and reporting on implementation. We are, therefore, working with the Ministry to facilitate a multi-agency approach to establish a monitoring system and an appropriate data collection methodology and indicators. This is not only a technical issue, but, more crucially, entails both awareness raising and an attitudinal change in other Ministries and Agencies.

To support this process, we are committed to bringing best international expertise and the full experience of UN and UNDP and are pleased to note that our work will ultimately be integrated in the Knowledge Management system that the Ministry of Family and Social Policy is in the process of developing.

In addition, we have developed partnerships with the private sector and specialised NGOs, such as the Alternative Life Association. The objective has been to raise awareness within companies on the “approach to disability” and to conduct activities that integrate persons that live with disabilities fully into social and professional life.
Our joint initiatives aim to provide a favourable environment that enables people with disabilities to achieve their full potential, and assists them in acquiring a profession commensurate with their skills and qualities.
Ultimately, we aim for an environment which promotes, protects and ensures full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons living with disabilities, and promotes respect for their dignity.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Allow me now to mention a few achievements of our joint work with the private sector.
It is notable that in the past two years thousands of employees of more than 70 companies in Turkey, including those in  Koc Holding, Peugeot and their vendors, have received training on approaches to disability at the workplace.
A significant number of these companies have now also developed internal policies for better integration of disabled customers and employees with disabilities into their business processes.

Another significant achievement is the establishment  of the Dreams Academy, which was made possible through our cooperation with Vodafone and the Alternative Life Association, Ayder. It uses art as a means to break social deprivation and to improve the opportunities of disabled individuals to be active and productive citizens.

The Academy provided access to services and trainings in 23 different areas for more than 4,000 people with special needs, thus contributing to their skills building and employability.

Students of Dreams Academy have also started home grown social enterprises, such as the Social Inclusion Band, Dreams Dance Company and Dreams Kitchen. The latter, for example, is a catering company, which employs people with disabilities in baking and cooking for customers. The Dreams Kitchen is a pioneer in Turkey that provides a social business model for persons living with disability. We hope that it will be widely replicated in Turkey and beyond.

We are very proud of this initiative and you will be hearing more about it from our partners today.
Last but not least, public awareness on disability has been raised, particularly targeting the youth population as well as private sector employees.
For example, with the engagement and significant contributions of Koc Group vendors, more than 18,000 students at 40 schools in 22 different cities have been provided with trainings on approaches to disability.

More than 150 Peugeot HQ officers and 100 Field Sales office owners have also been trained so far on disability related topics, a number that will increase. Peugeot Sales offices are being encouraged to revise their accessibility policies to become more inclusive and disability friendly.

Let me conclude by acknowledging the presence of many of our partners here today. I particularly welcome that they have this important opportunity to speak about their useful work on this critical but often neglected priority area.

I thank you for your patience and attention.

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