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With an accountability framework to monitor progress and address challenges, the new
       strategy has clear benchmarks, and will encourage more persons with disabilities to work
       in, and be better supported by, the UN.

       “I want the United Nations to be an employer of choice for persons with disabilities”, he
       stressed. “I want the United Nations to be fully accessible for one and all”.
       According to Mr. Guterres: “We can no longer be a platform for change when persons with
       disabilities cannot access that platform, to speak”.
       “Realizing the rights of persons with disabilities is a matter of justice as well as a
       common-sense investment in our common future”, the UN chief said, but “we have a long
       way to go in changing mindsets, laws and policies to ensure these rights”.

       He urged participants to make the goals and the objectives of the Convention “a reality on
       the ground”.

       Mr. Guterres cited last year’s first-ever UN Flagship Report on Disability and Development,
       which highlights core challenges, including disproportionate levels of poverty, lack of
       access to education, health services, employment and the under-representation of
       persons with disabilities in decision-making and political participation.

       Together, we can raise awareness and remove barriers – UN chief
       “We must do much more to address discrimination and exclusion, particularly against girls
       and women with disabilities”, he underscored. “We must also do much more on

       transportation, infrastructure and information and communications technology to make
       our cities, rural areas, and societies inclusive”.
       “Together, we can raise awareness and remove barriers”, he maintained. “Together, with
       persons with disabilities as agents of change, we can build an inclusive, accessible and
       sustainable world”.
       “My hope,” he concluded, “is that people with disabilities – particularly women and girls –
       one day live in a world that protects, respects and values us.”
       ‘Greater visibility’

       Addressing delegates in the General Assembly Hall, Catalina Devandas, and Special
       Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities said that despite multiple agendas
       and competing priorities, “the rights of people with disabilities cannot be marginalized”.

       She lauded the new UN Disability Inclusion Strategy to ensure that “people with
       disabilities are included in all development, human rights and humanitarian aid efforts”.

       While calling it “an ambitious and far-reaching proposal that can mean a turning point for
       the inclusion of people with disability” in all pillars of the UN’s work, she warned that the
       strategy is “just the starting point of a long process”.

       The UN expert called for the Member States to politically and financially support the
       strategy, flagging it as “a good investment” in strengthening the UN’s capacity to provide

       “better and greater support to national efforts to realize the rights of people with
       disabilities.”

       “Social gains are only achieved when people fight for them”, she concluded. “It is this
       tireless fight that now allows people with disabilities to enjoy greater visibility on the
       international agenda”.
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