Turkmen journalists learn more of mass media role in promoting rights of persons with disabilities
The role of mass media in promoting the rights of persons with disabilities was the central topic of discussions at a recent two-day workshop for Turkmenistan’s journalists working for different national mass media. The workshop was organized as part of the project on strengthening the capacity of Turkmenistan to protect and promote human rights implemented by the European Union, the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Office of High Commissioner on Human Rights jointly with the Government of Turkmenistan.
In the workshop, participating journalists discussed how media can help raise awareness of the challenges that persons with disabilities are facing in their everyday life as well as aspects related to the rights of persons with disabilities and international norms regulating such rights. The national mass media representatives specifically discussed the rights of women and children with disabilities, issues of accessibility, access to justice for persons with disabilities and their personal mobility, issues related to education, health and employment of persons with disabilities. They also covered topics such as participation of persons with disabilities in political, public and cultural life, recreation and sport activities.
"Human rights are universal. In order to fully exercise these rights persons with disability need involvement of the state. Accessibility is a cross cutting issue of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Without accessibility other provisions of the Convention, such as those on education, employment, political participation, health, leisure and recreation, equal recognition before the law and living in the community, cannot be implemented," said Ms. Martina Smidova, an international expert on social inclusion and education of persons with disabilities, who facilitated the workshop.
The overall message communicated to the workshop participants was that journalists can play a critical role in changing the government institutions’ and general public’s attitude towards people with disabilities, in sensitizing the whole society with respect to the rights and needs as well as constraints and limitations of persons with disabilities. In this work, the involvement of mass media in promoting the rights of people with disabilities is very important.
Turkmenistan was among the first countries which ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008. In 2010, Turkmenistan also ratified the Optional Protocol to this Convention, which allows for individual complaints to be brought to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Over the last years, accession to the Convention has resulted in changes in legislations, policies and existing practices in the country.
The workshop was organized in the framework of the Joint EU/UNDP/OHCHR Project "Strengthening the Capacity of Turkmenistan in Promotion and Protection of Human Rights". The project is implemented in partnership with the Government of Turkmenistan. Its overall objective is to increase knowledge on international human rights standards and mechanisms in Turkmenistan and to strengthen national capacities to promote and protect human rights in accordance with these standards.
Ms. Branka Šesto, Human Rights Specialist, EU/UNDP/OHCHR project