Opening Address to the UNESCAP Workshop on Community Based rehabilitation

by Mr Shinichi Hasegawa, Regional Director of ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Statement | Bangkok | 05 July 2005

Ladies and Gentleman,

On behalf the ILO I wish you a good morning and a heartfelt welcome to .

I first want to thank ESCAP for inviting me to participate in these opening ceremonies and for organizing this very important meeting on Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR). The ILO has been involved in CBR since 1980. We have funded more than 25 technical cooperation projects and continue to operate CBR programmes in cooperation with governments worldwide. These projects strengthen the capacity of CBR programmes to provide vocational skills and work opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities, with particular attention to women with disabilities.

CBR is one of many strategies that can contribute to poverty reduction and the achievement of Millennium Development Goals and Biwako Millennium Framework targets related to the eradication of poverty. While the ILO focuses on skills and employment, we fully recognize the barriers that people with disabilities face in accessing health care, education and the very resources and services that will predispose disabled persons to succeed economically. Therefore, we believe that CBR approaches should be holistic and adapted to the country’s social and economic context. They should however, include access to education, appropriate training and capital as well as provide other needed supports. The ILO and its colleagues at the World Health Organization and UNESCO stressed the need for a multisectoral approach to CBR in a jointly published position paper in 2004.

Most of you are well aware of ILO Convention 159 concerning Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons). This convention calls upon governments to establish a policy on vocational rehabilitation based on equal opportunity and equal treatment of disabled persons and in collaboration with employers and workers representatives as well as disabled persons and their representatives. The Convention also calls for the development of services for people with disabilities living in remote and rural areas. While the CBR approach has application in both urban and rural areas, the model can be particularly applicable for more remote communities, where disability rates are higher and poverty is more extreme.

In an effort to learn more about the CBR approach and the elements that contribute to successful programmes, the ILO, with funding from the Finnish Government, is currently implementing a research project in several countries globally. You will learn more about this project later today. It is the ILO’s hope that the completed project will make a significant contribution to the further development of CBR as an approach to economic empowerment and decent work for people with disabilities.

Ladies and Gentleman, as a former labour official in the Japanese Government, I have worked in the disability field and am aware of the barriers and obstacles disabled persons face in accessing community services, including those related to improving their livelihoods. In my current post, I have become increasingly aware of such barriers faced by disabled persons throughout the region. The work that you are doing is very important and I wish you a most successful meeting.

Thank you.