Press Release

PRESS RELEASE: The United Nations in South Africa hosts the Disability Management Summit with the City of eThekwini

24 October 2021

The Disability Summit focused on the challenges facing People with Disabilities in terms of access to information, healthcare, education and employment following the COVID-19 pandemic and some of  the interventions that The City of eThekwini is implementing in support of people with disabilities.

Durban The City of eThekwini today hosted a summit for persons with disabilities in Durban in collaboration with the United Nations in South Africa in commemoration of this year’s UN Day. The meeting, largely attended by persons with disabilities, senior City officials and the Resident Coordinator and head of the UN in South Africa, Nardos Bekele-Thomas, focused on the challenges facing the community in terms of access to information, healthcare, education and employment following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need to pay careful attention and listen to persons living with disabilities and produce and implement policies with them at the table, because only they know what it is like to live their lives with these challenges” Ms. Bekele-Thomas told participants at the summit.

“Nothing about us, without us,” was a slogan repeated by several speakers. A University of KwaZulu-Natal PHD student, Gugu Mijilo, and several other persons with disabilities shared moving testimonies of their daily struggles of workplaces and spaces that lack the necessary infrastructure to cater to their needs thus leaving many excluded at the decision-making table.

Tumelo Matlwa, a human rights specialist with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights based in South Africa, presented the findings of their latest report which focused on the impact of COVID-19 on persons living with disabilities. According to the REPORT people living with disabilities struggled to access information about the pandemic.

The report, which was the result of joint efforts between the UN and the Department of Women, Children and People Living with Disabilities and launched earlier this month, highlights for example, that visually impaired persons were severely impacted by mask-wearing because they are dependant on lip-reading for information.

“At the beginning of the lockdown, especially, there were very limited resources on the pandemic for people living with disabilities and this added to their already challenging lifestyles,” said Ms. Matlwa.

Several senior city officials, including the Deputy City Manager, Ms. Kim Makhathini, also spoke at the summit highlighting some of the work the city is implementing in support of people with disabilities.

For further enquiries, please contact Zeenat Abdool, UN South Africa - Associate Public Information Officer, at abdool@un.org or 0827788080

PRESS RELEASE: The United Nations in South Africa hosts the Disability Management Summit with the City of eThekwini

UN entities involved in this initiative

FAO
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
IOM
International Organization for Migration
OHCHR
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
UNDP
United Nations Development Programme
UNEP
United Nations Environment Programme
UNFPA
United Nations Population Fund
UNICEF
United Nations Children’s Fund
UNIDO
United Nations Industrial Development Organization
WHO
World Health Organization