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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

28 September 2021

ES speech

Your Excellency, Madam Zhang Haidi, Chair of the China Disabled Persons Federation, 

Excellencies, distinguished participants, Ladies and gentlemen, 

It is a great pleasure to join you in the Sharing Session on Poverty Alleviation Stories of Persons with Disabilities in China. 

As you may be aware, Asia and the Pacific is home to more than 690 million persons with disabilities, many of whom live in poverty and face significant challenges in participating in society. According to an ESCAP study, the difference in poverty rates between persons with disabilities and the general population can be as high as 21 per cent.  

Additionally, persons with disabilities are on average two to six times less likely to be employed than those without disabilities. Up to three-quarters of the working-age population with disabilities in the region are employed in the informal sector without adequate social protection.1 

These disadvantaged circumstances affect the standard of living of persons with disabilities, and the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the vulnerability of the community of persons with disabilities. 

In this context, the Sharing Session comes at a timely juncture. China has successfully lifted more than 7 million persons with disabilities out of poverty. Living allowances now cover over 24 million people for disability and nursing subsidies for persons with severe disabilities.2 The notable achievements made by China in poverty alleviation for persons with disabilities are valuable assets to the Asia-Pacific region.  

I would like to extend my warm congratulations to CDPF for launching the new publication “The Way Toward A Prosperous Life--12 Stories on Poverty Reduction of Persons with Disabilities in China”. The sharing of good practices, innovative approaches and lessons learned is of great importance in strengthening the regional knowledge base for policymakers thereby contributing to the advancement of the rights of persons with disabilities.  

Ladies and gentlemen, 

ESCAP is unwaveringly committed to supporting disability-inclusive development in the Asia-Pacific region. Recently, ESCAP has entered into a partnership with a number of countries to promote disability rights and inclusion during the COVID-19 pandemic and support long-term disability-inclusive employment and social protection measures.  

Our joint project with CDPF and Zhumadian Disabled Persons’ Federation focuses on improving the livelihoods and well-being of persons with disabilities through a comprehensive array of interventions, including vocational training, network building and awareness-raising. We hope this project will serve as a prototype for potential adaption by other stakeholders to reduce poverty and improve livelihoods for persons with disabilities. 

In 2012, ESCAP members and associate members proclaimed the Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022 and adopted the Incheon Strategy to “Make the Right Real” for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific. In 2017, governments further adopted the Beijing Declaration, including the Action Plan to Accelerate the Implementation of the Incheon Strategy. Both frameworks have since supported countries in making and tracking progress towards empowering persons with disabilities and improving their quality of life in the region. 

As the third Asia-Pacific Disability Decade comes to a close, governments, organizations of persons with disabilities and other stakeholders are starting to take stock of the progress made towards disability inclusion across the region.  

I warmly invite all of you to actively participate in the review of the Disability Decade to ensure our efforts chart the way forward in building disability-inclusive societies in Asia and the Pacific. 

Thank you. 

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