No fewer than one billion people are with disabilities, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, adding that they faced different forms of marginalization in the society.
Guterres stated this at the opening of the 17th session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on Tuesday.
“There are around one billion people with disabilities in the world,” the UN chief said.
The UN’s Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Kate Gilmore, who spoke on behalf of Guterres, noted that he had made gender parity and the equal representation of women a centrepiece of his term in office.
“The fact that only one woman has been elected by Member States to serve on the Committee is ‘fundamentally not appropriate’, Guterres said, urging Member States to “rectify this unacceptable situation” at the next elections.
“We do urge you to ensure a strong gender basis is built in to your agenda this year, and we urge you to take special care to ensure that the voice and experience of girls and women resonates within your deliberations,” he said.
According to him, rather than considering disability as an issue of medicine, charity or dependency, the committee challenged people worldwide to understand disability as a human rights issue.
“It (disability rights) covers many areas where obstacles can arise, such as physical access to buildings, roads and transportation, and access to information through written and electronic communications.
“It also aims to reduce stigma and discrimination, which are often reasons why people with disabilities are excluded from education, employment and health and other services,” the UN scribe said.
The Committee’s 17th session consisted of 18 international independent experts, who will review the rights of people with disabilities in the Republic of Moldova, Iran, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jordan, Armenia, Honduras and Canada.
These countries are among the 172 State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which was adopted on Dec. 13, 2006 by the General Assembly. (NAN)