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“Philosophy of Opportunity” - Forum dedicated to the International Day of People with disabilities was held in Kyiv

3 December 2022

On December 3, 2022, First Lady Olena Zelenska opened the Forum “Philosophy of Opportunity” organized by the Ministry of social policy on the occasion of the International Day of People with disabilities.

In addition to the organizer, Minister of social policy Oksana Zholnovych, the forum was attended by the Minister of Health Viktor Liashko, deputy head of the Presidential Office Yuliia Sokolovska, the Presidential Commissioner for barrier-free issues Tetiana Lomakina, other statesmen, public activists and representatives of international organizations. New approaches to self-realization through employment, rehabilitation and social services, and capacity development of people with disabilities were discussed within the framework of the forum, in particular, taking into account the challenges of war. In total, more than 200 people took part in two thematic panels of the event: “Personal fulfillment through employment" and “New recovery formula”.

In her speech, First Lady Olena Zelenska focused on the term “philosophy of opportunity”, which was included in the name of the forum.

“Opportunity is the ability to exercise. And at the same time, opportunity is also the presence of favorable conditions, circumstances that help in implementation. It seems to me that this is the formula of our discussion today: what conditions should be created in the state and society so that every person in Ukraine, including those with disabilities, can live to the fullest, realize themselves, and have no barriers,” Olena Zelenska said.

Oksana Zholnovych presented a vision of the social policy implemented by the team of her Ministry for people with disabilities. She also stressed the importance of a comprehensive mechanism to support the employment of people with disabilities.

“Today only 15% of people with disabilities were able to find a job. Our main goal is to help people with disabilities gain economic independence and be involved in social processes. Therefore, we focus on the capabilities of people, their talents and abilities — this is the path to inclusivity, which breaks down barriers in the perception of this category of people by society,” Oksana Zholnovych said.

The minister also stressed that social service will become an important component of the new system, along with rehabilitation. A person will receive comprehensive support from specialists in the shortest possible time. This will help them quickly return to a full life and greatly simplify their adaptation to new operating conditions.

Tetiana Lomakina spoke about the goals that the state sets for itself in achieving barrier-free conditions and creating opportunities for the ability and social inclusion of people with disabilities.

“After winning the war we will have a great recovery. We are talking about the restoration of kindergartens, schools and offices. We have laid a strong foundation for infrastructure accessibility. Now these changes should be taken up by specialists who design buildings. Both streets and transport should be convenient for people with disabilities. There are also sensitive issues of monitoring during the construction of structures and control during commissioning. And we should find answers to these questions in the near future,” said the adviser — Commissioner of the President of Ukraine on barrier-free issues.

The deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine stressed the importance of introducing a civilized market for social services.

“During the war the issue of providing social services became particularly relevant, as many people were left without the care and help of relatives and friends. Therefore, we are currently working on introducing a civilized market — a pilot project to introduce the register of social service providers and its public part has already been launched. Its full launch will help improve the quality of services due to competition and transparency,” Yuliia Sokolovska said.

Viktor Liashko spoke about the introduction of integrated multidisciplinary teams.

“Now we are working to ensure effective cooperation between medical institutions and prosthetics specialists. This is a very important step in changing approaches to rehabilitation and prosthetics. A multidisciplinary approach is being introduced, the regulatory framework is being updated, and conditions are being created for training rehabilitation specialists who directly provide assistance. In full-scale war it is also an important task to change the consciousness and attitude of each of us to people with disabilities,” the Minister of Health said.

“The International Day of People with disabilities aims to draw attention to an important goal — everyone has the right to be an equal part of society. Ukraine is making progress on this path, in particular, in introducing progressive legislation that ensures the rights of people with disabilities. Innovative tools in the form of digital services for people with disabilities also deserve attention,” Jaco Cilliers, Resident Representative a.i. of the UNDP in Ukraine, stressed the importance of implementing changes.

For reference: every year, on the occasion of the International Day of People with disabilities, representatives of central executive authorities, public and international organizations, and persons with disabilities discuss pressing issues.

In 2022, The Forum “Philosophy of Opportunity” aims to form a common vision of a barrier-free environment in Ukraine and inform about new state policies related to employment, rehabilitation, provision of social services for people with disabilities and their families, the introduction of digital technologies for the recovery and professional realization of people taking into account their needs caused by disability.

The Forum is organized by the Ministry of social policy with the support of UNDP, the government of South Korea, the Government of Germany, and the Initiative Center to Support Social Action “Ednannia”.