Delivered on 6 March 2018

Delivered by Ms Aishath Shahula First Secretary of Permanent Mission of Maldives to the United Nations Office at Geneva

Thank you, Mr. Vice President,

My delegation congratulates and thank the Special Rapporteur Ms Catalina Devandas for the comprehensive report presented under this agenda item.

Mr. Vice President,

The Constitution of the Maldives has two key provisions to ensure equality before the law for persons with disabilities; it emphasizes non-discrimination and ensures special assistance and social protection for persons with special needs. Further, the Disability Act (2010) has allowed us to make remarkable progress in the care of persons with disabilities, with the establishment of a Disability Council which includes representation from the civil society, compilation of a Disability Register and also creating awareness at the community and national level to foster a culture of respect for their rights at home and in public space.

We recognize the importance of creating an environment that facilitates easy access to quality education and health care, for every child with disabilities. In this regard, our inclusive Education Policy has trained teachers for all schools across the country, equipping them with skills for Special Needs Education.

The Government’s efforts to aid the economic empowerment for persons with disabilities is the provision of employment at public companies of persons with disabilities, empowering them economically and enabling them to make choices independently. Further, social housing schemes give special consideration for families with disabilities.

Recently, the Government of Maldives appointed goodwill ambassadors to assist the Ministry of Gender and Family in its efforts to protect and advance the rights of persons with disabilities, to raise awareness, identify challenges and also to support families with of persons with disabilities.

Mr.Vice  President,

Despite these efforts, providing health care and accessibility of services to a population highly dispersed over 187 inhabited islands continues to be a huge challenge for the Maldives. Though the Government remains committed to protecting and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities, we still have a long way to go, in terms of developing and implementing effective measures to ensure equal rights to persons with disabilities to live independently, and with dignity.

Thank you Mr. Vice President.