Today Fiji commemorates the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), a day that has been annually observed on the 3rd of  December around the world since 1992.

The theme for this 2019 IDPD is ‘Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda’; and it focuses on the empowerment of persons with disabilities for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as anticipated in the 2030 Agenda – recognizing disability as a cross-cutting issue to be considered in the implementation of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa in a statement says disability is referenced in various parts of the SDGs and specifically in parts related to education, growth, and employment, inequality, accessibility of human settlements, as well as data collection and monitoring of the SDGs.

Vuniwaqa says that as a nation, Fiji  has surely taken some great strides in the direction that will move Fiji and all Fijians forward – together.

Vuniwaqa says echoing these references in Section 42 of the 2013 Constitution, which is the first rights-based law that we have ever had in Fiji for persons living with disabilities – giving Fijians with disabilities a number of rights including reasonable access to all places and materials, devices pertaining to their disabilities, and to use sign language, braille or other appropriate means of communication.

She adds this provision goes further to give persons with disabilities the right to the reasonable adaptation of buildings, infrastructure, vehicles, working arrangements, rules, practices or procedures, to enable their full participation in society and the effective realization of their rights.

Today, Fiji is a proud signatory of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) since 2017 and we also have in place a domestic law in the form of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2018 which further clarifies and mandates legal obligations pertaining to the rights of persons with disabilities in Fiji. With a strong legal mandate comes a collateral duty to initiate programs for the fulfillment of our legal obligations. This requires a whole of nation collaborative effort.

The minister thanks thank all the stakeholder partners from the Civil Society in helping the Ministry and the Fijian Government in implementing its vision for inclusive development for persons living with disabilities and we look forward to continuing strengthening our partnerships and collaborative efforts in ensuring that the rights of Fijians living with disabilities are fully enjoyed by them in all aspects.

As Fiji celebrates International Day for Persons with Disabilities today, there are organized activities around the country to celebrate the achievements of 2019 for persons with disabilities and I encourage and welcome all Fijians to join the commemorations.

The Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation would like to wish everyone a happy International Day for Persons with Disabilities.

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