The Effect of the Coronavirus Pandemic on Persons with Disabilities

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Removing barriers, making society inclusive and accessible: impact of the COVID-19 crisis on persons with disabilities and “building back better” toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable world.

Persons with disabilities face the same risk from the COVID-19 crisis and its impact as the rest of the population, but the danger experienced by those with disabilities is compounded by many other factors, such as pre-existing health conditions, inaccessibility to health care and other essential services, social protection and income security, mental health services, and communication technologies. In addition, intersecting forms of discrimination further worsened the situation of persons with disabilities due to gender and other status, including as migrants, refugees, or from racial, ethnic or religious minorities and subjected them to even more hardships and unequal treatment. In other words, disability and structural inequalities, which characterized societies before the crisis, are being exacerbated by the multifaceted impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

Disability-inclusive local, national and global responses require cooperation, investment and direct support from all stakeholders, including governments, the UN System, humanitarian actors, civil society, and representative organizations of persons with disabilities, as well as the private sector.

This event brings together representatives from these key stakeholder groups to discuss how new and pre-existing barriers endangered persons with disabilities and what we can learn from this unprecedented crisis to build back better toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable world.

This webinar is co-organized by UNITAR and the United Nations Secretariat under the auspices of the Government of Ecuador and its Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York. UNITAR also appreciates the support provided by G3ict, the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs and the University of Tokyo KOMEX.


2:00 - 2:20 – Welcome remarks and presentation by the moderator Situational COVID-19 overview Mr. Alex Mejia, Director of the  Division for People and Social Inclusion at UNITAR, Editor-in-Chief of UN Today Magazine

2:20 - 2:40 – Opening Statements Amb. Luis Gallegos, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the United Nations in New York, Member of the BOT of UNITAR • The Global Response to the human crisis: the moment of global solidarity by, for and with persons with disabilities
Ms. Ana María Menéndez, UN Secretary-General’s Senior Advisor on Policy, EOSG, United Nations
• United Nations Initiative for a Disability-Inclusive Response to COVID-19

2:50 - 3:00 – Prof. Takashi Izutsu, the University of Tokyo KOMEX
• Normative Frameworks on Disability Inclusion in Emergency Settings and Building Back Better: From the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to the SDGs
3:00 - 3:10 – Mr. Gopal Mitra, Senior Social Affairs Officer, Disability Team, EOSG, United Nations
• Overview and key messages: Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action
3:10 - 3:20 – Mr. Axel Leblois, President of G3ict
• Promoting Accessibility in the Digital Age toward an inclusive and accessible post COVID-19 World
3:20 - 3:30 – Ms. Abia Akram, Global Chair, Global Youth Council UNICEF-NY, Co-Coordinator, Asia Pacific Women with Disabilities United and Coordinator, South Asia Disability and Development Initiative (SADDI) Project
• Inclusion of women and girls with disabilities in the COVID-19 response and recovery
3:30 - 3:40 – Ms. Jennifer Ibbotson, PT, Nepal Rehabilitation Coordinator, Samaritan’s Purse Canada
• Overview on why COVID-19 particularly affects persons with disabilities
3:40 - 3:50 – Dr. Bikash Adhikari, Executive Director of Sundar Dhoka Saathi Sewa (SDSS)
• Including marginalized populations in health care systems during COVID-19


Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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