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Webinar: Disability Inclusive Protection Response to Covid-19 in the Southeast Asia Region

Responding to the global pandemic and devastating situation, the ASEAN Disability Forum (ADF) worked together with the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and Center for Inclusive Policy for holding a webinar entitled “Disability Inclusive Protection Response to Covid-19 in Southeast Asia” on 21 April 2020. The webinar had 22 participants consist of the organizations of persons with disabilities from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Those participants were the alumni of the Bridge CRPD-SDGs training initiative. The webinar provided sign language international for the captioning facility to the participants.

This webinar was initiated by IDA and ADF to discuss and share significant concerns of the organizations of persons with disabilities during the pandemic amid multiple barriers in society. Persons with disabilities, found in Southeast Asian countries, are living in poverty without proper access to education and healthcare services. Therefore, it essentials for persons with disabilities to have adequate, timely protection response, and inclusive system to fulfil the rights of persons with disabilities.

Lim Puay Tiak, Chairperson of the ASEAN Disability Forum, opened the workshop and welcomed the participants. Also, Stephanie Choo, from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), was presenting the six recommendations from UNESCAP regarding the terms and policy measures. A highlight from a participant in the webinar was “We must consider intersectionalities which make people especially vulnerable in the present situation”.

The attendees revealed essential issues about persons with disabilities amid the Covid-19, namely inadequate available data, less coverage of social protection to persons with disabilities, the problems with obtaining disability certification in the present situation, the reliance of informal and institutional support in the region. Some participants detected some good practices in their countries, such as cash transfer, surveys, and assessment for the needs of persons with disabilities. However, in a few states, such as Cambodia and Myanmar, it is challenging to get information or data to expedite and administer the response necessarily.

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