The Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia Maja Gojkovic opened the gathering “The Future is Accessible” at the National Assembly House, marking the International Day of Disabled Persons. She stressed that, though some progress has been made in the past couple of years, poverty, high unemployment rate and social exclusion remain key problems in the area.
In line with this year’s theme of 3 December, International Day of Disabled Persons - “The Future is Accessible”, Gojkovic said that it is important to demonstrate the society’s firm dedication to work on eliminating barriers and opening the doors for the full inclusion of persons with disabilities.
“Over a billion people around the world live with some kind of a disability. Serbia alone has about 800,000 citizens with disabilities. It is up to us to help them and encourage them to take part in all the spheres of life – economy, politics, education, healthcare, culture, because they are people who live with us, not beside us”, stressed Gojkovic.
She explained that accessibility especially contributes to discrimination against persons with disabilities.
The Speaker stressed that the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia states that everybody has the right to equal protection under law and prohibits discrimination of any kind, adding that the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which Serbia has ratified obliges us to provide and promote the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms by persons with disabilities.
Gojkovic said that Serbia has progressed in the adoption of laws aimed at providing a better quality of living for persons with disabilities.
Minister of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs Zoran Djordjevic said that it is our job to topple all the existing barriers, eradicate unemployment and discrimination against persons with disabilities and build a modern society, tailored to the needs all the citizens, that will ensure equality for all.
Djordjevic said that the Ministry had drafted a Strategy for the Improvement of the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the Republic of Serbia for the period to 2024 and action plan which would, in his opinion, considerably contribute to a better future.
Zeljko Cirkovic, member of the Serbian national wheelchair basketball team, thanked Assembly Speaker Gojkovic for making it possible for persons with disabilities to have their say at the National Assembly House, as well as the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs which was the first to recognize the importance of wheelchair basketball.
“In basketball, we are all equals, we play by the rules not adjusted for persons with disabilities, on the court, there are no obstacles for us”, said Cirkovic.
The organizer of the exhibition “Disabled Persons Who Changed the World” Robert Coban explained that the objective of the project was to boost the inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities, saying that all the segments of society joined in the action.
“We wanted to show that disability does not have to be an obstacle to life achievement. It is all of our task to propagate this idea by example and inspire others and new generations”, Coban concluded.
The exhibition set up in the central hall of the National Assembly is dedicated to persons with disabilities who changed the world and includes Stephen Hawking, Frida Kahlo, Ludwig van Beethoven, Andrea Bocelli, Thomas Edison, Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic. To mark International Day of Disabled Persons the Committee on Labour, Social Issues, Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction and Committee on Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality organized a joint sitting.