Do we consider people with disabilities as “one of us”? Who is different from “us”? Why do we see difference? How often do these questions come to our minds in the everyday routine?
Despite the fact that people with disabilities are considered as minority in the world, it should not be forgotten that disability has an ongoing open membership: everyone can become disabled at any time due to accident, illness or aging. Thus, disability is a part of a person's life. And often it is just a matter of time.
People with disabilities are full-fledged members of our community, who have the same rights, benefits and opportunities as others. That is why society needs to pay more attention to the integration of people with disabilities into all spheres of life.
Today, Uzbekistan is making significant efforts to align national social protection system with international standards. At this stage, it is important to be familiar with the world experience and best international practices in the socio-psychological adaptation of people with disabilities in society. To this end, the UN, together with the Government of Uzbekistan, launched a Joint Programme to Strengthen Social Protection in Uzbekistan, which is being implemented by UNICEF, ILO and UNDP. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) team is implementing Component 3 that aimed at improving the disability assessment system and developing service delivery methods based on the international norms of the International Classification of Functioning (ICF) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
In Uzbekistan, the Government and society practice a charity-based approach to disability issues. Whereas, international experience says that the approach should be based on human rights. Within the framework of the Joint Programme, on 2 July 2020, the first online meeting brought together programme partners to provide information on implementation of the ICF provisions in the social protection system, assistance to the Government of Uzbekistan in ratifying the CRPD, as well as improved mechanisms for the provision of social services.
The meeting resulted in establishing strong cooperation with organizations of people with disabilities in Uzbekistan. Which, in turn, made it possible to implement an integrated approach to disability issues and to solve important problems in this area together with people with disabilities. In addition, in order to change the approach of society and the Government to disability issues, the UNDP team prepared an infographic on the rights of young people with disabilities. The infographic talks about the issues of social protection for young people with disabilities and the promotion of their rights to inclusive education, work, employment, access to medical and social assistance, and also the right to a decent life.
Aiming to achieve the Joint Programme goals, UNDP experts are developing proposals for improving the disability assessment system, and the methods of service delivery based on the ICF and CRPD norms, which encourage countries to move from a medical to a social model of disability assessment. To enhance capacity of the Medical and Labor Expert Commission (VTEK) staff, UNDP conducted a practical online training in August-September 2020, during which 25 VTEK members got familiarized with the fundamental principles of the ICF and CPRD. At the training, specialists learned how to consider disability as one of the stages of life, emphasizing not only on physical aspects, but also on environmental factors.
So, what is the social model for assessing disability? The social model defines disability as limitations in opportunities that arise as a result of physical, psychological, sensory, social, cultural, legal, and other barriers.
The COVID-19 pandemic unveiled the weakest spheres of the organizations of people with disabilities - lack of funding and support for their initiatives. It prevents them from expanding the range of services. To address this, the idea to help organizations of people with disabilities came to fruition. The "Support for small social initiatives of organizations of people with disabilities," micro-grants on a competitive basis, were announced.
The grants are focused on providing people with disabilities with decent employment and creating more jobs. Grant holders will participate in capacity building events, trainings and planning activities for their initiatives to increase sustainability of their actions.
Of course, this is just the beginning of a long and difficult path, the direction of which is dictated by the Sustainable Development Goals: Poverty Eradication (Goal 1), Gender Equality (Goal 5), Reduced Inequalities (Goal 10), Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (Goal 16), and the global initiative “No one left behind”.