JAKARTA - Asean should further engage and empower disabilities and their regional networks to promote their rights.
Saowalak Thongkuay, Disabled Peoples' International Asia-Pacific, said that there are 60 million disabled persons in the 10-member countries. "These people need equitable access through all available Asean mechanism," she said.
She pointed that although the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted at the UN General Assembly in 2006, only Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand have ratified this convention. She urged all Asean members to step up this process to ensure the universal rights for the disabilities on an equal basis. "Afterall, Asean Charter mandates the establishment of a people-oriented Asean community," she added.
More than 200 delegates from the region are attending today's Regional Conference on Asean and Disabilities to network and synergise their plans and activities.
Asean also must recognise works of disabilities within the Asean framework so that their voices could be heard.