Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Founder of Qatar Foundation for Social Work (QFSW), has called for a global collaboration to empower the people with disabilities as well as to end discrimination against them.
“The time has come for everyone to perform their duty. The time has come to put an end to this kind of blind discrimination,” Her Highness Sheikha Moza said at the opening ceremony of the inaugural Doha International Disability and Development Conference at the Qatar National Convention Centre on Saturday.
“We must collaborate globally to devise mechanisms to stop the waste in resources caused by the lack of investment and empowerment for people with disabilities and enable them to play active roles in the development of society. We can achieve this through meaningful employment of this large number that has been marginalised for the sake of disability, especially those talented among them,” noted Her Highness Sheikha Moza.
Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Founder of Qatar Foundation for Social Work, participated in the opening of the Doha International Conference on Disability and Development (DICDD), where she called to redefine the stereotypical understanding of disability to curb discrimination and misconceptions about people with disabilities. She also stressed the need for greater investments to allow them to play active roles in society development.Deputy Secretary General of the UN, Amina Mohammed, attended the conference.
Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser toured the exhibition set up for the Doha International Conference on Disability and Development, which showcases the successes achieved by persons with disabilities
Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Founder of Qatar Foundation for Social Work, with the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina J Mohamed, on the sidelines of the Doha International Conference on Disability and Development. They discussed the rights of persons with disabilities and their empowerment as a vital part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. PICTURE: AR Al-Baker
“There are 1.5bn people with disabilities around the world, and the numbers point to the unacceptable level of negligence that has been shown towards those people. When we look at the developing countries, they contain more than 80% of the total number of people with disabilities in the world. In the Arab world, it is estimated that there are 40mn people with disabilities, more than half of them are children and teenagers, due to the effects of wars and conflicts, as we have seen in Iraq since 1980 and Syria, Libya and Yemen since 2011,” she noted.
Raising the questions, "First, allow me to wonder: what is disability? What is the difference between a person who has a disability and one who does not? Who describes and defines this concept?" and quoting recent studies, Her Highness Sheikha Moza highlighted that “every human has some form of disability, albeit of different kinds and at different stages. But there should be no difference between one person and another, based on their level of disability.”
“I believe that disability is a stereotype perpetuated by a prevailing mentality and social culture that define persons with disabilities based on misconceptions. There are two perspectives on disability: one comes from a medical standpoint, and one from a social standpoint. The typical treatment of people with disabilities follows the medical approach, which focuses on physical and visible attributes,” she explained.
The global advocate for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals maintained that the very concept of disability is limited to traditional disabilities and excludes other disabilities.
“If our concept of disability is based on visible disability, and ignores hidden disability, then doesn’t the illiterate suffer from an educational disability? Is ignorance not an intellectual disability? Isn’t there also such a concept as political disability? And isn’t the violation and assault against others a moral disability?” she asked.
“I also believe distinguishing people apart based on the definition of disability implicates a form of discrimination. Sometimes, I even feel that the exceptions we make for people with disabilities, with the intention of showing sympathy towards them, do more harm than good,” continued Her Highness Sheikha Moza.
She reminded that there is a great deal of work ahead to correct the consequences of the misconceptions and perceptions that followed as a result.
“Despite Qatar’s leadership in being one of the most supportive countries for people with disabilities, we are looking to see more support in promoting education and employment opportunities. We are now more optimistic after what we have seen the country’s decision-makers pledge, and, from our side, we share this commitment,” she added.