Qatar Foundation for Social Work (QFSW) organised a online dialogue session on “The Power of Partnerships in Securing the Rights of Persons with Disability in the Context of Covid-19”.
The session was held on the sidelines of the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development under the United Nations for tracking and reviewing global progress in implementing sustainable development goals.
The session aimed to discuss sustainable and resilient recovery efforts from Covid-19 fallout in a way that enhances the socio-economic and ecological aspects of sustainable development: building a comprehensive and effective path to achieve the Agenda of 2030 in the context of work and accomplishment for sustainable development.
The session focused on strengthening international co-operation mechanisms to ensure the transfer of knowledge and development in best practices to include the rights of persons with disabilities in responding and recovering from Covid-19.
The UN reiterates its commitment to promoting the rights and full and equal participation of children, women and men with disabilities in societies, and pledges to continue collective action and scalability towards comprehensive disability inclusion in a post Covid-19 world, as the socio-economic repercussions of the pandemic have disproportionately affected the rights of persons with disabilities (PWDs).
Eventually, PWDs have become among the most marginalised groups and exposed to risks such as isolation, stigma, poverty, loss of work, debility and impaired mental health.
The pandemic has shown that protection, response and recovery efforts cannot be effective if all society groups are not equally considered and included. Therefore it is highly persistent to take decisive and urgent action to ensure that consultations are taking place with PWDs, and that their appropriate inclusion in public emergency planning, health response and recovery efforts is maintained.
Qatar Foundation for Social Work CEO Ahmad al-Kuwari said the Covid-19 pandemic had triggered multiple impacts on collective efforts towards achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs), especially for people with disabilities. The pandemic had led to further hindrance that undermined accessibility in various countries, al-Kuwari said noting that Qatar Foundation for Social Work’s consultative status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council has given it the opportunity to advocate, communicate and glean knowledge from others.
The current situation magnified the need for international platforms such as the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development to reassess the capabilities and restore efforts to collectively address the challenges posed by the pandemic, al-Kuwari stressed.
For her part, Executive Director of the Shafallah Center for Persons with Disabilities, Laalei Abualfain, said that in alignment with the Doha Conference on Disability and Development’s recommendations, co-operation between Shafallah Center and Harvard University has taken place.
It was reflected in an outright evaluation of the Shafallah Center, with the aim of establishing the first centre with a rights-based approach to support persons with mental disabilities in the Middle East.
Moreover, a unique family-centered early intervention model was developed as a key part of the co-operation project.
“The centrr has followed the highest level of precautionary measures to ensure the continuation of its services during the pandemic, in addition to providing many services to students and their families remotely, as well as giving the centre’s employees and students priority for vaccination,” she pointed out.
“Persons with disabilities are at greater risk of contracting Covid 19 due to accessibility barriers to basic hygiene measures; difficulties to maintain physical distancing dependence on touch for information or physical/mobility support,” Rosangela Bergman Bieler- Unicef Global Chief Disability Section said.
QFSW is an active international partner in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, as it has been granted a consultative status in the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in 2017, which is the main body for co-ordinating economic and social activities between the United Nations and its subsidiary organs.
Such consultative capacity has allowed QFSW to participate effectively in discussing the issues of the most vulnerable groups based on the human right to development.