International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2020

Make persons with disabilities a priority during COVID-19 recovery in the Pacific

Press release | Suva, Fiji | 01 December 2020
Signing ceremony, Suva, Fiji.
Suva (ILO News) – The International Labour Organization (ILO) Office for Pacific Island Countries and the Pacific Disability Forum strengthened collaboration with the signing of a letter of intent, to continue to work in partnership to promote gender-responsive skills development, employment promotion and enterprise development for people with disabilities in the Pacific Islands.

The signing ceremony was part of the joint UN / PDF programme of events to observe International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2020 – Building Back Better: towards a disability- inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world held in Suva, Fiji on the 2nd December 2020, and followed the signing of “Principles of Engagement” between the UN and the PDF.

Persons with disabilities should be made a priority in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic , says a grouping of enterprises, non-profits and disabled people’s organizations, led by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The ILO Global Business and Disability Network say targeted and mainstream actions need to be taken to ensure that disability issues are addressed in pandemic recovery plans. Persons with disabilities should always be consulted on COVID-19 recovery measures, so their insights and experiences are taken into account.

“Persons with disabilities are particularly vulnerable during the pandemic due to a combination of higher health-related risks, loss of income, and disruption to their support systems”, said Setareki Macanawai, CEO, Pacific Disability Forum. The partnership between PDF and ILO takes our relationship to a new level, in ensuring that recovery for post COVID-19 is disability-inclusive particularly supporting the economic empowerment of all persons with disabilities.

“In the Pacific, we are living challenging times with the COVID-19 pandemic that is causing unprecedented economic impact in our societies,” said Matin Karimli, Director, ILO Office for Pacific Island Countries. “While we are all trying to adapt to the new normal, this is more difficult for persons with disabilities. The partnership between PDF and ILO demonstrates our commitment to promote disability-inclusive responses while leaving no one behind. Moreover, it will enable ILO and tripartite constituents to better support the needs of persons with disabilities to overcome the barriers in the Pacific region.”

Persons with disabilities, 15% of the world’s population, face marginalization in social, economic and health terms, as well as limitations by public services to reach them. This marginalization increases the threat to lives and livelihoods that the COVID-19 crisis poses. In response to the crisis, an approach that is inclusive of persons with disabilities is essential to mitigate the negative effects of the crisis and ensure a sustainable recovery.

About the ILO
The only tripartite U.N. agency, since 1919 the ILO brings together governments, employers and workers of 187 member States , to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.

About the PDF 
We are a constituency of 71 organisations of/for persons with disabilities and individual members representing diverse groups of persons with disabilities and their supporters in 22 Pacific Island countries and territories.