High ranking government officials, international community and civil society have come together to discuss initiatives on making Baku a truly accessible city at a round table organized by Office of Disability Services at ADA University and UNICEF.
The round table discussion – also supported by the Ministries of Youth and Sports, Labour and Social Protection of Population and the National Paralympic Committee – comes at a perfect time, with the city preparing to host the European Games in 2015.
The main outcomes of the round table will include initiation of the process of political decision-making in regard to Baku City Accessibility issues, especially in light of the up-coming European Games 2015, and establishment of the Baku City Accessibility Coordination Group.
At the end of the meeting, participants signed the Baku Accessibility Declaration.
“Azerbaijan was one of the first countries in the region to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability, and UNICEF is encouraged to see work now starting in Azerbaijan so that all children can grow up without discrimination, regardless of whether or not they have disabilities, and can have equal opportunities throughout their lives,” said UNICEF Representative in Azerbaijan Andro Shilakadze.
“It is not only about people with special needs – a barrier free Baku will make life better for mothers with strollers, for the elderly, and for workers; and can increase business by making it possible for more people to access stores and services. It will also allow more people to enjoy the beauty of Baku, and make it a more attractive destination for older tourists. At the event today we see participants ranging from Government to the private sector – represented all major stakeholders – starting the process of moving towards a barrier-free Baku and eventually a barrier-free Azerbaijan.“
“At ADA University we are committed to creating a welcoming, diverse, and inclusive community. One of our main goals is to constantly monitor both attitudinal and structural barriers to allow students with disabilities full access to our services, programs, and activities so they may take complete advantage of their right to an education. Hence we take pride in joining forces with our counterparts within “Baku – without barriers” initiative," said the Rector of ADA University, Ambassador Hafiz Pashayev who addressed the conference.
Dr. Colin Higgs, UNICEF’s international expert, Professor Emeritus, Canada, was the main speaker at the event. He presented the best international standards and requirements and called on decision makers “to turn Baku into not only one of the most beautiful, but also one of the most advanced, cities in the world.”
The event also became part of the year-long celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by UNICEF and other partners.