Thursday, 3 December 2015
32nd Sitting of the Committee on Labour, Social Issues, Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction
To mark 3 December, International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Committee on Labour, Social Issues, Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction held a joint sitting with the Committee on Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality, with the topic “Inclusion of persons with disabilities – access and empowerment”.
“The purpose of marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities is to better understand disabilities and raise awareness on the matter, and it is the society’s task to create an environment conducive to the inclusion, access and empowerment of persons with disabilities”, stressed Marinkovic.
He added that, according to the World Health Organisation, 15% of the world’s population suffers from some form of disability, that is 800,000 people living in Serbia, and if we include the families of disabled persons this gives us a number of over two million people in Serbia, with women and children being the most vulnerable categories within the group. Persons with disabilities face the problem of access, education and later employment opportunities, which puts them into the state of or potential state of poverty, which should be an indicator to lead the creation of an environment for economic growth and responsible social policy, added Marinkovic. He opined that, though Serbia has a relatively sound legislative framework, its implementation is a problem.
“The motto of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities – inclusion, access and empowerment, is not only a prerequisite for a better life but an imperative that needs to be answered. The National Assembly will continue to support persons with disabilities because no country should dismiss their potentials”, Marinkovic concluded.
Ljiljana Malusic, Deputy Chairperson of the Committee on Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality, said that the Committee wants to view these issues from the aspect of human rights, which persons with disabilities are entitled to, and that it will continue to insist that discrimination of any kind is unacceptable.
“Though the issue of disability has become visible and the stereotypes and bias against people with disabilities have been clashed, their inclusion still remains a question that requires more effort. We expect that today’s joint sitting will produce specific proposals and suggestions how the National Assembly and its working bodies can contribute to the solution of the problems of persons with disabilities”, added Malusic.
Vladimir Pesic, Assistant Minister of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, briefed the participants on the Ministry’s activities, especially the Sector in charge of protection of persons with disabilities, achieved results and normative activities. Ivan Sekulovic, EU financial and technical assistance coordinator at the Serbian Government’s Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Team, presented the prerequisites for the funding and support programmes for persons with disabilities, while Ksenija Milenkovic, acting director of the European Integration Office, spoke about the issue of persons with disabilities from the aspect of European integration, with a focus on negotiation chapters 23 and 19. Svetlana Vlahovic of the National Organisation of Persons with Disabilities and Gordana Rajkov of the Serbian Centre for Independent Living Persons with Disabilities spoke about inclusion in practice and the political engagement of persons with disabilities.
In the ensuing discussion the participants stressed that disability can struck anyone at any given time and the number of persons with disabilities keeps rising. They spoke of the laws concerning the rights of persons with disabilities and their implementation, the role of the National Assembly, the process of inclusion, the government’s commitment to economic growth and the creation of a better environment for the social protection and improved status of persons with disabilities, specific problems of different groups of persons with disabilities, etc.
The sitting was attended by representatives of a number of associations of persons with disabilities and representatives of NDI which provided the support for the joint sitting.
The sitting was chaired by Dr Vesna Rakonjac, Chairperson of the Committee on Labour, Social Issues, Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction, and Ljiljana Malusic, Deputy Chairperson of the Committee on Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality.