Vice President U Henry Van Thio attends second meeting of the National Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

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Vice President U Henry Van Thio, Chairman of the National Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, delivered a speech at the committee’s second meeting held at the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday.

Present at the meeting were committee Vice-Chairmen Union Minister Dr. Win Myat Aye and U Aung Ko Myint, committee members including Deputy Ministers, Nay Pyi Taw Council members, state and region ministers for social affairs, Vice-Chairman of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, Permanent Secretaries, Directors-General, officials from the Myanmar Federation of Persons with Disabilities and representatives from a diverse number of associations for various disabilities.

There are one billion living with some form of disability around the world, according to the 2010 World Report on Disability conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank, said the Vice President. He also said that persons with disabilities (PWDs) have a harder time accessing healthcare and education, entering society, politics and the economy, and finding employment, compared to the rest of us. He added that PWDs face higher rates of poverty and unemployment and receive a lower income.

The UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted in 2006 to reduce the aforementioned inequalities and to ensure all persons with all types of disabilities can enjoy human rights and fundamental freedom, said the Vice President.

Myanmar signed the CRPD on 7 December 2011 and since then the Union Government has been working to make certain the 2.3 million PWDs in Myanmar can exercise their rights and are entitled to their freedom.

Myanmar’s legislature passed the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Law in 2015 and the bylaws on 27 December 2017. Additionally, the National Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was formed on 14 September 2017, with Union Government Announcement (70/2017) and is serving as a beacon of hope for the PWD community. The committee held its first meeting on 28 December 2017.

The Vice President said he believes the crucial first steps for the PWD community were taken at the committee’s first meeting, when decisions were made to form state- and regional-level sub-committees and the Nay Pyi Taw sub-committee, the Ministry of Construction made plans to make transportation more disabled inclusive, and the Ministry of Education arranged for children with disabilities to have access to free education. He added the Working Committee for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was formed during the first meeting as well.

The Vice President said there are future plans to form a Fund Management Group, various relevant sub-committees under the working committee, and a Technical Support Group for the national committee backed by the Department for International Development (UK).

Various strategic goals and projects are being implemented with international organizations to provide support, rehabilitation and personal development to a wide range of people with disabilities in Myanmar, said the Vice President. These include a project to develop blind massage training for people with visual impairment, a project to enable people with auditory impairment easy access to news and information, a project to provide vocational training to people with physical disabilities, and a project to provide personal development to people with mental disabilities, such as autism and Down syndrome.

The Union Government is allotting monetary aid from its respective fiscal year budgets to fund community-based inclusion campaigns for PWDs concerning their education, healthcare, employability, legal affairs and disability awareness.

The Vice President said the people of Myanmar have inborn empathy and a willingness to help others, which can be combined with the knowledge and experience gained from the aforementioned campaigns to support the personal development and empowerment of PWDs.

The Vice President said if respective ministries in Myanmar can fulfill the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set by the UN for 2015-2030, then PWDs, other vulnerable populations, and all of society can reap the benefits.

The Vice President requested all relevant government departments and other organizations to plan for more disabled inclusion in their development programmes, as regional or national development requires every member of society to be involved.

The modern world is facing a multitude of global issues which can be solved hand in hand with PWDs if we adhere to the 2017 International Day of Persons with Disabilities theme—‘Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies for all’, said the Vice President. He added that PWDs can utilise the skills they acquired from the various campaigns to aid in disaster risk management projects and rural development.

Later, Vice-Chairman of the National Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Union Minister Dr. Win Myat Aye spoke about forming committees for ensuring the success of operations for the rights of PWDs, planning laws, bylaws and strategic plans concerning PWDs, and creating job opportunities, access to education and healthcare for the personal development and livelihood of PWDs.

This was followed by the other Vice-Chairman of the national committee and Chairman of the Myanmar Federation of People with Disabilities U Aung Ko Myint explaining plans for ensuring equal rights and opportunities for all citizens, the ability to join political and social sectors, full access to education and social benefits, non-discrimination against PWDs, and setting up policies and pre-planning for the rights of PWDs.

Next, national committee Secretary Deputy Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement U Soe Aung gave a presentation on the implementation progress of the first meeting’s decisions, the working committee’s decisions and the committee’s future plans.

Vice President U Henry Van Thio then took a photograph with the meeting attendees.

The second part of the meeting continued later, with the meeting attendees discussing the rights of PWDs, future plans, requirements for implementation and possible collaboration