Leaving no one behind: EU, UNESCO promote inclusion in Jordan for persons with disabilities with ‘Accessible Jordan’

December 4, 2018

Under the patronage of HRH Prince Mired Bin Ra’ad Bin Zeid, the European Union (EU) and UNESCO, today hosted a high-level event on International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

With a strong emphasis on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development "leaving no one behind", the event celebrated Jordan’s inclusion achievements. The EU and UNESCO commemorated their contributions to promoting accessibility in Jordan, specifically under the “Networks of Mediterranean Youth (NET-MED Youth)” project. The UNESCO Amman office has been implementing the project since 2014, with strong collaboration from the EU in partnership with youth organizations, institutions and partners.

The NET-MED Youth project has provided support to Aya Aghabi’s “Accessible Jordan” initiative since 2017. Accessible Jordan works with businesses, organizations and individuals to improve the accessibility of their spaces, events and experiences. By bringing attention to the accessibility dimension of spaces, “Accessible Jordan” hopes to encourage engagement, improve accessibility and achieve inclusivity for all. Recently, with support from the European Union, Accessible Jordan has launched a brand-new web portal with a large database of accessible spaces around Jordan, making it easier for people to find the places they can access depending on their needs and with just a few “clicks”.

The event attracted high-level representation, including HRH Prince Mired Bin Ra’ad Bin Zeid, HRH Prince Faisal Bin Ra’ad and Ms. Corinne Andre, Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation to Jordan. Acting as panelists, the event also featured the voices of HE Haifa Najjar, Senator of the Upper House of Jordanian Parliament, HE Issa Gammoh, Secretary General of the Ministry of Tourism, Mr. Daniel Sharaiha of Bank al Etihad, HE Dr. Muhanned Alazzeh, Secretary General of the Higher Council for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Ms. Rana Kawar, UNICEF Education Specialist, and Ms. Hadeel Abu Soufeh, Disability Rights Activist.

In 2017, the Higher Council for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (HCD) enacted new legislation promoting inclusion. The Higher Council has also been working to create national strategies designed to implement these laws, which cover a variety of issues such as inclusive education, accessibility, early detection and health care. HRH Prince Mired Bin Ra’ad Bin Zeid stated, “Still today in Jordan those with disabilities are not treated the same as those without disabilities. We want the Jordanian Government & civil society to take action. We must see change and work to implement the legislation passed in 2017". 

Addressing the audience, Ms. Andre touched upon the importance of acknowledging the barriers to full participation in society and the need to reflect on the types of challenges and barriers confronting people living with disability. She emphasized her satisfaction with working with young Jordanian leaders such as Ms. Aghabi as an efficient way to dismantle some of those barriers.

Recognizing the acute challenges faced by people with disabilities in Jordan, Ms. Costanza Farina, UNESCO Representative to Jordan, reaffirmed UNESCO’s commitment to unifying efforts and harnessing the potential of youth. Ms. Farina honored the ongoing hard work of the Higher Council, praising the efforts of Aya Aghabi and Accessible Jordan and noting the strong collaboration with the European Union under the NET-MED Youth project.   Referencing the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Ms. Farina stated, “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development promises to ‘leave no one behind’ because development will not be sustainable if it is not based on human rights and fundamental freedoms for all. To build more resilient societies, we must place the rights of persons with disabilities at the heart of our efforts, to enable every woman and man to make the most of the opportunities for personal fulfilment”. 

Ms. Aya Aghabi presented Accessible Jordan’s brand new online platform, encouraging synergies among initiatives in Jordan. “It is important for us to work on promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities in Jordan so they can be equal contributing members in society, as they are able to be, when equipped with the proper tools and an accessible environment. This is what we are hoping to achieve with Accessible Jordan”, stated Aya.

Following the speeches, the audience enjoyed the high-level panel discussion. Panelists discussed how each of them and their sectors could work to further promote inclusion and accessibility. Panel members also discussed key results and achievements thus far and next steps, including how to integrate Accessible Jordan on a broader scale. The audience exchanged with the panel at the close of the discussion, posing articulate questions about inclusion and accessibility.  

For pictures from the event, click here.

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