“As a wheelchair user, the lack of accessible spaces in Yerevan has been a constant source of frustration. I often have to rely on help from other people, which is not only unpleasant, but also an issue of dignity and deprivation of independent life and work.
When I became a member of the Yerevan City Council, I even had to struggle getting into the municipality building – a public building and essentially my workplace. Having a colleague in a wheelchair was an unusual experience for other City Council members, too. But such challenges motivate me even further, because I know people with disabilities deserve decent lives and equal opportunities, not benefits and pensions.
I was part of the movement to introduce inclusive education in Armenia, and its adoption as a state policy is one of my proud achievements. Now it’s time to take that inclusive approach and apply it to all spheres of public life.
Currently I work as the Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, coordinating issues regarding people with disabilities. One of my goals is to make sure people with disabilities are in the driver’s seat when it comes to decisions about their lives.
My fight isn’t over yet. Armenia ratified the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities more than 8 years ago, but we still don’t have a law based on the human rights model of disability. I am determined to change that.”
“I love my city. I want to see it more beautiful, more developed, and happier. I know you can’t achieve that without bringing democracy to citizens and citizens into democracy. Each of us should understand what citizenship and governance really mean. Each of us should recognise our own responsibility and how best to be engaged.
In Rustavi, I can see positive changes happening every day. People are becoming more active in the matters of their town and community, and the authorities should keep up the pace, too.
Currently, I work at the office of the Rustavi Mayor. My job is to create and use innovative tools to make our municipality more open and inclusive for the people.
In 2017, Rustavi became the first regional city in Georgia to develop an Open Government Strategy, my personal source of pride.
In July 2018, we will have a chance to show the achievements of Rustavi at the World Summit of Open Government Partnership in Georgia. This is a big reason to be proud, too - telling the world what we are doing to build our local democracy.
At the end of the day, most rewarding thing for me is to see my community and city transforming in a positive way, knowing I have been able to put my own brick into this change.”
Originally published by UNDP Eurasia.