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Euro-Mediterranean conference on disability inclusion kicks off in Jordan

By : JD

Jordan Daily – A two-day conference on the socioeconomic inclusion of persons with disabilities in the Euro-Mediterranean region opened in Jordan on Tuesday, with the aim of fostering more inclusive and equitable societies across the area.

The conference, co-organised by the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), Spain’s ONCE Social Group, and the Jordanian Higher Council for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (HCD) , brought together public officials, institutional partners, and disability organisations.

The event also served as a launch pad for the EUROMED Regional Agenda on the Socioeconomic Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, a programme that will address the root causes of discrimination and set the preconditions for more inclusive policy responses.

Participants identified priority areas and validated an indicative timeline for the approval of the agenda, which is expected to become a reality this year.

“It is essential we take action to ensure inequality and discrimination do not become entrenched in the Euro-Mediterranean region as we can only move forward when it comes to safeguarding the rights of people with disabilities,” UfM Deputy Secretary General for Social and Civil Affairs John Paul Grech said.

“I am convinced the EUROMED Regional Agenda, an excellent example of regional cooperation, will promote legislative measures that will help lead to concrete improvements in the lives of people with disabilities.”

Javier Güemes Pedraza, ONCE’s Director of International Relations, said the agenda would also contribute to the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“Hosting this important conference in Jordan reaffirms our country’s robust political will to promote the rights of persons with disabilities and to play a key role in mainstreaming the disability rights and issues in social policies at the regional level,” Muhannad Alazzeh, the Secretary General of the Jordanian Higher Council for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, said.

He added that the conference is a timely message that disability should be always on the national agendas, including during emergency and crisis situations.

Attendees reviewed the results of the First Situational Assessment of the Social and Economic Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in the Euro-Mediterranean Region. Conducted in October 2023, it found that people with disabilities continue to face significant hurdles impeding their full participation in society, especially when compounded with factors such as unemployment, weak social protection mechanisms, gender inequality, or the negative impacts of climate change. This is evidenced by the fact that 50% to 90% of people with disabilities in the region are jobless, a phenomenon that disproportionately affects women, who face a higher risk of poverty or social exclusion than men.

Participants also assessed current opportunities, defining joint actions to work towards the full implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The conference’s outcome document establishing priority areas will be presented before the United Nations this June, while specific policy recommendations will be put forth by the end of the year.

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