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Statement by H. E. Mr. Taavi Rõivas, Minister of Social Affairs of the Republic of Estonia at the High-level meeting of the General Assembly on the realization of the MDG-s and other internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities


Round table 2: post-2015 development agenda and inclusive development for persons with disabilities



Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

Society has a duty to ensure that difficulties related to disability are minimised through active support for a healthy lifestyle, adequate health care, rehabilitation, supportive services, communities and environments.

It is necessary to promote national as well as international cooperation between governments, local communities, and stakeholders. Cooperation allows us to learn from the best practices on mainstreaming disability issues and coordinating activities. This will allow us to ensure protection of the rights of persons with disabilities, set priorities, and design policies.


I believe that employment is the key for better social inclusion and for reducing poverty and dependence on social benefits. Let me give you a brief example from Estonia.


Last year we began to prepare a comprehensive Disability Insurance Reform, which we hope to launch in stages starting from 2014. I dare to say that this is the most far-reaching reform in Estonian social policy so far. The problem has been that the current system does not motivate people who have lost their capacity for work to return to the labour market. A person’s incapacity for work is emphasized, instead of a person’s ability to perform other tasks or learn a new profession. As a result of the reform we will focus more on a person’s capabilities, and develop effective and efficient measures to bring these people back into the labour market.


Estonia has developed rapidly during the past 20 years. Today Estonia is the country with the highest level of Internet freedom and with possibly the best e-solutions in the world. Our e-solutions also help people with disabilities. As an example, a private company can be started online in only five minutes, voting in parliamentary elections can be done online, recurrent prescriptions can be renewed online with medication to be picked up in any pharmacy in the country and the list continues. E-solutions help to reduce barriers and build a more inclusive society.


An equally important issue besides e-society is awareness-raising on disability issues as a part of human diversity. It is important to promote a paradigm shift among persons with disabilities, specialists and the general public to overcome barriers to the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in our societies.

Last but not least I wish to highlight the importance of ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and mainstreaming disability issues into national policy-making in all areas. This provides an important impetus for ensuring the effective implementation and impact of reforms, strategies, and policies that affect persons with disabilities. I am pleased to be able to confirm that Estonia ratified the Convention in May 2012.

Thank you for your attention.


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