“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that more action is needed for the requirements of the United Nations’ conventions in this field (UNCRPD) to be upheld.” We need ambitious strategies, policies and action plans. We must ensure that the obligations and goals are actually implemented in the day-to-day lives of people with disabilities,” said the Finnish Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services, Krista Kiuru, who opened the Nordic side event. Social inclusion is a priority area of the Finnish Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2021, just as it is a prerequisite for and an important part of the Nordic values.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that more action is needed for the requirements of the United Nations’ Conventions to be upheld. We need ambitious strategies, policies and action plans.
The right to independent living
Both ministers and representatives of civil society organisations were present to discuss challenges and solutions in relation to Article 19 of the Convention, which was the main topic of the side event. Specifically, it is about including people with disabilities and recognising their right to independent living. The speakers delivered a clear message: People with disabilities must be involved in policy development and included in decisions that affect them.
People are experts on their own lives
This point was also emphasised by Astrid Krag, the Danish Minister for Social Affairs and Senior Citizens, as she stressed that people with disabilities are the best experts with regard to their own lives and have valuable knowledge about how the welfare system should be improved to guarantee their rights. “Even in welfare states, we cannot take independent living or inclusion for granted,” the Danish minister pointed out.
Focus on gender equality and young people
Several speakers from civil society drew parallels to their own lives. Anna Caldén from the Federation of Swedish-speaking Disabled in Finland mentioned the importance of giving priority to women and girls with disabilities. Line Skåtøy from the organisation Unge argued that young people with disabilities must also have a place at the table when political decisions are made.