By : Nedal Zubeidi
Jordan Daily – The Union for the Mediterranean (UFM), is an intergovernmental organization of 43 member states from Europe, the Balkans and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, is working to promote the social and economic inclusion of people with disabilities, especially women, in the face of multiple crises, its project manager said on Tuesday.
Anna Dorangricchia, who leads the Social and Civil Affairs Division at the UFM, said the organization is cooperating with regional partners, such as the Arab Organization of Persons with Disabilities, to develop a political agenda with common priorities that could be proposed to the national governments.
She told Jordan Daily on the sidelines of her participation in the 2nd Regional Conference on the Socio-Economic Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in the Mediterranean Region held in Amman that the UFM is focusing on four areas when it comes to persons with disabilities : employment, social protection, gender and emergency situations, related to climate change, natural disasters and wars, such as the ones in Ukraine and Gaza.
“We are not covering all the rights because it’s impossible, so we decided to cover specifically the social economic inclusion, meaning access to labor market, employment and social protection, and we have to take into account that when we talk about persons with disabilities, 50% of them are women,” she said.
Dorangricchia noted some European countries have advanced policies for people with disabilities, especially for employment and social protection, and the idea is to share those experiences and see how they can be adapted to the MENA context.
She said one of the main challenges is that although all the UFM member states had ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, there is a lack of policies, programs and funds to implement it effectively.
She said there is a need for a holistic and integrated approach, where disability and gender equality are cross-cutting issues that involved all the relevant ministries and stakeholders.
People with disabilities need to have access to the workplace, transportation, adapted housing and assistance, and that these required extra costs that had to be taken into account,she pointed out.
The first conference on disability and social inclusion was held in Barcelona in January 2022, and the second one was chosen to be in Jordan for two reasons: “First, because we have been cooperating with the Higher Council for the Rights of Persons with Disability in Jordan since last year, and second, because Jordan is quite advanced in terms of commitment for the implementation of the convention and is going to co-chair the next Global Disability Forum that will take place in 2025 in Germany and in Jordan,” she said.
Dorangricchia concluded that the UFM wants to make sure that the recommendations from the conference can be part of the Global Disability Summit in 2025, adding that and that Jordan is a key partner and supporter of the UFM’s activities.