Mariupol, September 30, 2018 – The weekend of 29-30 September 2018 saw the first inclusive festival for Donetsk Oblast “The World for Equality” in Mariupol. The event, which coincided with the City's Day, brought together more than 500 persons with disabilities from various cities and districts around the Oblast and over 1,000 guests from Mariupol.
In Ukraine, the topic of inclusion is becoming more and more prominent, and a number of initiatives are being implemented. However, there is still no comprehensive approach to the social inclusion of persons with disabilities. According to the State Statistics Service, as of 1 January 2018 there were 2,635,591 citizens with disabilities in Ukraine, including 160,128 in Donetsk Oblast.
“Festivals like this are important not only because they promote active involvement of persons with disabilities in the life of their community, but also because they encourage their fellow citizens be more tolerant and empathetic,” said Victor Munteanu, the Head of the UNDP's Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme, which is being implemented in eastern Ukraine. “This is a platform for a dialogue and building new contacts. Most importantly, it’s a one more step towards creating a truly democratic society, which is essentially an inclusive society where no one is left behind, and everyone’s opinion matters,” he added.
The programme for the first day of the festival, which took place in the city park, included various recreational activities, including sports competitions and a fair. Participants with disabilities also demonstrated their martial arts skills.
Students from Pryazovsky State Technical University organized a discussion about inclusive education and why it is important. “We want people to better understand the difficulties that persons with disabilities face every day and realize how important it is to build a truly inclusive society so that the slogan ‘A world of equal opportunities’ is not just words but a reality,” said Angela Tymchenko, a local activist.
The Mariupol police were also actively involved in the festival, and organized some simulations for the festivalgoers, so that they could experience how persons with visual impairments or who use wheelchairs live.
The following day the “Opportunities for each one, society for everyone!” Forum was held to discuss inclusive education, inclusive municipal spaces and business opportunities for persons with disabilities. The Forum participants emphasized the importance of involving persons with disabilities in the educational process and social activities.
The timeliness of this approach was confirmed by the nation-wide “What Ukrainians Know and Think of Human Rights” survey. When asked about possible reasons for discrimination in Ukraine, almost 33 per cent of the respondents mentioned discrimination against people with disabilities. At the same time, three fifths spoke in favour of inclusive education for children with disabilities.
The idea for the inclusive festival was proposed by the“Dovira Foundation NGO and implemented under the UNDP’s Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme with financial support from the governments of Sweden and Switzerland, and with support from the Mariupol Trading Port and the Mariupol Youth Union. TV7 TV channel was a media partner.
Yuliia Samus, Communication Specialist, UNDP Ukraine, email@example.com, Yuliia.Samus@undp.org, +38 097 139 14 75