It is my privilege to be here with you this morning to open your Train the Trainers Training of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
As your line Minister, I thank you for the invitation and urge you to keep me well informed of the progress of the Federation.
The Fijian Government applauds the work undertaken to empower our people with disabilities so that they are able to contribute to our economy using their talents and skills. No one can take away your abilities to make a difference to your livelihoods and for your families too.
For partners who are here, I thank you for the commitment and support to the wellbeing of people with disabilities. I hope that we will persevere to continue such efforts as there is more work that needs to be done.
To all the members of Disable Society present here this morning – my message is -we are together with you in this fight, where we want to remove all the barriers and give you equal access to participate in society, development programs and funds, education, employment, health care, communication and transportation services.
I know that the journey has not been easy but a challenging one. I have always believed that people with disabilities needs to be recognized as people that can make a lift to our society and that can only be possible if we uplift their talents and skills to improve on their livelihoods. We all must see that the inclusion is not just at policy dialogue or policy intervention, but rather a concept expressed in improved livelihoods for the people living with disability.
Ladies and gentlemen the Fijian Government is genuinely committed to have barrier – free society in Fiji through legislation which provides equal rights to all women and men with disabilities and is working hard with Ministries and agencies to see that we all Fijians stand at a similar level where all are respected as the proud citizen of Fiji.
Our Ministry assists the FIJI NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR DISABLED PERSONS in running a separate administrative body to cater for needs of women and men with disability. The Council has been conducting trainings and workshops for the Disabled persons. It was under the guidance of the Council that we managed to put together a National Disability Policy.
The Fiji National Disability Policy provides a framework and guide for all government and non-governmental agencies, DPOs, individuals, families and communities throughout the Fiji Islands, so that we all work towards creating a society that reflects the deepest respect for human lift.
On this note I must remind all of you that the Bainimarama Government’s commitment is very evident in the new Constitution which enshrines the central principle of common and equal citizenry. Specifically Section 42 (1) (a), A person with any disability has the right – to reasonable access to all places, public transport and information.
Our Government very strongly believes that all women and men with disabilities have fundamental human right, and that it is an inherent component of economic growth and development. It recognizes that ethnicity, disability, religion and gender often intersect and create a multiplicity of sources of discrimination.
Furthermore the FIijian Government is determined to build Fiji where there is respect for all people by dismantling barriers and building institutions and structures that are inclusive and allow people to participate fully and equally.
Ladies and gentlemen, our government values the skills of our people with disabilities and to guarantee that they are included with the rest of the Fijian population, we will keep on making spaces for all to have a barrier – free society.
The Fijian Government turns promises into reality and the inclusion of disability in our development will bring out measurable success in the times ahead. I commit to the vision and mission of my Ministry where people with disabilities are empowered to meet their needs and build confidence and their self esteem too.
I close to plea to all today that we need to work with solidarity and with caring heart to ensure we carefully address the many challenges of people living with disabilities.
I hope that you will learn with renewed mindsets today so that you will impact those who will be learning from you. My Ministry will work with you so that future trainings will be supported..
In closing, I look forward to receive your training report and future updates too. On that note too, please be assured that we will pursue the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities this year.
With those words, it is my priviledge to formally open the Train the Trainers Program.