Minister Şahin hopeful on ‘removing barriers’

Minister Şahin hopeful on ‘removing barriers’

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Minister Şahin hopeful on ‘removing barriers’

Fatma Şahin

Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Şahin said yesterday that Turkey is experiencing a mental transformation.

“Sustainable development cannot be based on the healthy, powerful man figure. We must reach out to women, to [disabled] people, to everyone,” she said at a conference in Istanbul where the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the first-ever world report on disability.

“What we work for is to remove the barriers of people who have bias in their minds against disabled people while removing the technical barriers for disabled people,” Şahin said.

According to the report, more than 1 billion people in the world, making up almost 15 percent of the total population, experience a disability. Maria Cristina Profili, the Turkey representative of WHO, said “all healthy people are potentially disabled.”

“This report shows that one out of every seven people is disabled. All families have a disabled member, which means every step to enhance health, education, employment, etc. must include a special action plan and policy for disabled people,” Profili said.

According to the report people with disabilities have generally poorer health, lower education achievements, fewer economic opportunities and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities.

Tom Shakespeare, one of the editors of the report, said Turkey is gaining ground on the matter.

“One billion people have disabilities, and 85 percent of those were preventable problems which turned to be chronic in the end. Disasters, violence, traffic accidents and so on – these all need to be prevented. On the other side the report shows the barriers of ignorance and lack of policies, but the primary objective is to show that disability is a political issue,” Shakespeare told Hürriyet Daily News.

Meanwhile, British disabled scientist Stephen Hawking wrote in the foreword of the report that this century will be a turning point in efforts to include disabled people in society.