Launching of Local Action Plan for Persons with Disabilities in Lushnja Municipality

May 22, 2015

Zineb Touimi-Benjelloun

UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative

Dear Mayor Tushe,
Dear Minister Gjermeni
Dear Deputy Minister Kospiri
Dear Silvana,
I am happy to greet you all today to discuss the Lushnja local authorities’ and civil society’s important initiative to boost Albania’s social inclusion agenda and specifically the rights of people with disabilities.
Albania has taken important steps to eliminate or reduce the barriers to people with disabilities’ full participation in their communities. Policy documents and legislation are being enacted to guarantee the rights of people with disabilities, for education and employment opportunities, to remove cultural and physical barriers and to proscribe discrimination against people with disabilities.

We are all fully conscious that the actual implementation and delivery of services is the fundamental responsibility of local governments, these being the closest level of government to the people. You are the ones that are confronted on the daily basis with people’s specific needs and have to put in motion the full mechanism of support so that no women or men are left behind.  

Experience shows that in order to effectively address the needs of disabled people, local governments need to integrate disability components into policies, programmes, regulations and their corresponding budgets; implement programmes that benefit people with disabilities. And above all, the Municipality should ensure that available opportunities, particularly from government financed programmes, are equitably distributed and include all people with disabilities.

The Local Action Plan “Persons with Disabilities” of Lushnja Municipality shows there is high political will, at the municipal level, to implement the government's policy agenda.  It demonstrates commitment to making the hope of “a better life for all” possible through the implementation of the proposed measures.  

The Local Action Plan we are discussing today has been supported by UNDP in the context of the UN Social Inclusion programme. We are working together with our main partner - the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth - and other ministries to ensure that social inclusion policies are well coordinated, involving all levels of government and actors including people experiencing poverty and exclusion.

I would like to thank our partner organization Albanian Disability Rights Foundation for the great work they have done with several local government units in the country. In this context, it is important to highlight the pivotal role of civil society in the advancement of disability rights. Civil society has been at the forefront of human rights promotion and protection, pinpointing problems and proposing solutions, pushing for new standards, giving voice to the powerless, building awareness about rights and freedoms. Thank you for advocating for sustainable change on the ground.
I also thank our Governmental and non-governmental partners for their commitment and ownership of the social inclusion agenda; and specially thank the government of Switzerland for the unwavering support to the work of UN to further advance the rights of people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups in Albania.  
I look forward to listening to the discussions today and wish you all success in your major undertaking to make Lushnja a better home for all women and men, girls and boys.
Thank you  

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