Governments Commit to Inclusion in Central Asia
Dushanbe, Tajikistan: Five Governments in Central Asia - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – made strong commitments to reform their national policies and practices for the inclusion of children with disabilities at a UNICEF supported Child Protection Forum.
“The meeting went a lot further than we expected. The five Central Asia countries spent three days dialoguing in constructive ways, exchanging experiences and lessons learned, with children only in mind. It was also very encouraging to hear the voices of civil society listened to with interest and respect in Dushanbe. And most moving were the testimonies of parents of children with disability, their commitment and passion when they asked all of us to create more inclusive societies.” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. “It was a first.”
More than 130 participants from Central Asia attended the Forum in Dushanbe, including high-level government representatives from ministries of health, education, and labour and social protection as well as parliamentarians, ombudspersons, representatives from the Association of Parents of Children with Disabilities, Disabled People’s Organisations , civil society organizations working in the field of disability, international donors and UN agencies.
“Tajikistan is to be specially commended for hosting the meeting and then showing leadership by establishing a government task force to develop a plan for the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” Ms Poirier said.
Ms. Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Direcotr for CEE/CIS (L) and Ms. Ruqiya Kurbanova, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Tajikistan, Chairpeson of Committee on Child Rights under the Government of Tajikistan.
The participating countries agreed that despite economic and social challenges, the full inclusion of children with disabilities into society should not be delayed.
They committed to act without delay to strengthen systems and policies for early identification and rehabilitation, establish community-based support services for families of children with disabilities, and fight stigma and discrimination that create barriers for realising the rights of all children, including children with disabilities.
The participants acknowledged that turning promises into action and real positive change required the involvement of many different stakeholders to work together to develop and enforce inclusive policies, systems and services and to monitor the outcomes of the reforms on the lives on children with disabilities.
The Director of the Centre for Children with Autism in Tajikistan, Lola Nasriddinova, told the Forum: “We do not need pity from others. Our children do not need charity or ‘medicalized’ approaches. We need acknowledgment of the strengths and abilities of our children, and immediate removal of the barriers they are facing in being included in schools, in recreation, in regular life. And this is what our children also want.”
Marie-Pierre Poirier said the commitment from Governments and stakeholders in Central Asia has created momentum for change and provided a foundation for reform which UNICEF would strongly support.