Mr. Chair, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to start by thanking the Secretariat for excellent organization of this conference. I would also like to extend my warmest thanks and support to the Special Rapporteur Devandas.
It is my pleasure to address, on behalf of Finland, the 10th Conference of the State Parties to the CRPD.
In Finland the past year has been the first since our ratification of the Convention came into force, in June 2016. The work did not end there, quite the contrary.
As of January this year, the Advisory Board for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has operated as a coordination system under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. The task is to gather different sectors and levels of central government, civil society and DPOs to carry out activities based on the Convention.
In addition, Disability Rights Committee of the Human Rights Delegation been established within the auspices of the independent National Human Rights Institution in Finland.
These mechanisms, along with others already in force, will ensure that persons with disabilities will be participating - and fully involved - when policy or legislative work is planned and implemented in Finland.
Let me now address some global issues that in our view deserve further consideration during the coming years.
Women and girls with disabilities still face many barriers in their everyday lives. Not only do they face discrimination, often on multiple grounds, but far too many women are also victims of physical, including sexual violence. This has to be stopped, and we all have responsibility in doing so.
Sexual and reproductive health and rights of women with disabilities are fundamental in realizing their full participation in the society. We have to do more to ensure that this right is protected for all girls and women, in all countries and in all situations, including humanitarian and conflict situations.
Surely the most efficient and sustainable way to improve the socioeconomic status of all persons is education and equal participation in the labour market. In most countries, including my own, persons with disabilities are often excluded as a result of various barriers, including lack of accessible education and unwillingness to make reasonable accommodations, but also as a result of negative attitudes.
We must find sustainable solutions to reduce discrimination and support equal opportunities at working life. Encouraging self-employment of persons with disabilities is also important. Experience shows that smart and inclusive solutions very often end up benefitting all people.
Each person living in a conflict situation is affected in one way or another. For persons with disabilities the conditions are often particularly difficult due to many reasons, including the collapse of the health sector and the shortage of assistive aids.
We need to make sure that persons with disabilities and their representative organisations are actively involved in humanitarian response.
My Government was among the co-drafters of the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action. We have been pleased to see that close to 150 states, organizations and agencies have endorsed the Charter to date.
The Charter states that persons with disabilities should have access to humanitarian response, both in terms of protection and assistance, without discrimination. It recognizes that existing policies, procedures and practices on inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian programs need to be strengthened and systematized. The Charter also stresses the importance of disability disaggregated data.
The commitment is there. Now it is high time to put words into action.
Let me finally underline my Government’s firm commitment in continuing our cooperation and support to the UN disability work, as we now enter the second decade of implementation of the Convention.
Finland has been and will continue to ensure that the CRPD and Agenda 2030 are taken forward in a mutually reinforcing manner that places non-discrimination and participation at the center of all processes.