Interior Minister Sar Kheng during the marking of National Disability Day yesterday on Koh Pich island highlighted the government’s achievements in providing equal rights to citizens with disabilities.
“The government has spent a significant amount of the state’s budget to supporting disabled people and their families to gain equal rights,” he said in a speech. “That includes eliminating negative stigma from the word ‘disabled’.”
Mr Kheng said the government has been implementing its National Disability Plan over the past five years, but despite progress made in making the disabled community more inclusive in society, issues such as workplace discrimination persist.
He said ministries and other government institutions must continue to implement the national plan by enacting action to reduce violence against people with disabilities, prevent workplace accidents and continue the Kingdom’s de-mining initiatives.
Mr Kheng specifically called on government transport agencies to cater to people with disabilities, while the Information Ministry was ordered to provide helpful information to those with disabilities.
Social Affairs Minister Vong Sauth said the government has paid attention to disabled citizens and it will continue to do so.
“The government has helped a lot of them by providing health support, education, jobs and addressing social affairs so they can live and have rights just like other people,” Mr Sauth said.
Suth Monorom, a person living with a disability, said: “Disabled people would like to thank the government for providing support, many are able to receive social protection, education, health care and jobs in state and private institutions.”
According to a government report, 2,860 people living with disabilities were given employment opportunities in 40 government agencies this year, while 102 private companies employed 3,792 persons with disabilities.
The National Disability Plan was first implemented in 2014 and it was set to run for four years. Last year, the government extended the plan until 2023.
“The government set out a strategic plan through the National Strategy on Disability for 2014-2018 and it has been a success,” Prime Minister Hun Sen said last year. “So the government is prepared to continue to implement this strategy for the years 2019-2023.”
He said the government aims to break down barriers to opportunities for people with disabilities and also encourage the public not to be rude to disabled people or discriminate against them.
King Norodom Sihamoni last month released a letter to praise the government for improving the lives of people with disabilities as the government relaunched its National Disability Plan.
The King said disabled people have gained access to both quality and equitable health services and rehabilitation over the past four years.
He said people with disabilities are now encouraged to speak out and participate in political life both at the national and international level.
“The above achievements underscore the willingness and commitment of the Royal Government to serve persons with disabilities in Cambodia,” he said. “I would like to further encourage this activity and call on all to continue supporting the activities of persons with disabilities to remove obstacles they face.”
However, a group of disabled women earlier this week raised concerns over discrimination faced by girls with disabilities in getting an education.
Chea Bopha, a disabled person, during a forum on challenges faced by women with disabilities said many parents do not send their disabled daughters to school because they believe that no one will give them jobs in the future.
“When parents have daughters who are disabled, they do not send them to school to get an education because they think that because of their disabilities they will not get a job in the future,” she said.
She encouraged parents to send their disabled daughters to school to get an education for a better future.
“For example, my parents discouraged me from attending school because I am disabled, but I persevered because I wanted an education,” Ms Bopha noted. “Now I have a job with Agile [NGO] and am contributing to society.”