New York

03 December 2019

Remarks at "This is My Workplace": Celebrating the Abilities of Professionals Around the World Empowered Through Employment [as delivered]

As delivered by Ms. Ana María Menéndez, Secretary-General's Senior Advisor on Policy

Good afternoon to all of you -- excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
I am really very pleased to join you today for this important conversation. The Secretary-General is strongly committed to making the United Nations an inclusive organization for all.
I think it has been already mentioned that the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy was launched by the Secretary-General in June. He made it clear that the UN must not only lead by example on disability inclusion -- we must become the employer of choice for women and men with disabilities. He has stressed that he would like to see more persons with disabilities working for the UN and being supported.
Our Organization should reflect the diversity that exists in our society. We must be the change we want to see.  
In 2018, the Secretary-General commissioned a comprehensive review of our performance on disability inclusion. While we found examples of good practice, the review shed light on significant gaps across all our of work, from Headquarters to the country level. It showed unevenness in our approach — in our use of existing tools and mechanisms in our strategies, and in our core policies. 
The UN Disability Inclusion Strategy provides a concrete framework and roadmap for systemic and sustainable change, both in our programmes and in our operations. It ensures that we raise our standards on disability inclusion, and specifically addresses our organizational culture.
We must improve accessibility. This is an absolute prerequisite for the inclusion of people with disabilities in our Organization, and in our society. If our buildings, hiring processes, communications, are not accessible, persons with disabilities will not be able to work successfully in our Organization. Provisioning of reasonable accommodation is equally important.
But to move from promises to reality, we can’t only focus on policies and operational frameworks. We need to fundamentally change our mindset.
Two weeks ago, during the Global Resident Coordinator meeting here in New York, a number of UN Country Team leaders reiterated that one of the single most effective ways to change mindsets is to have more and more persons with disabilities in our offices and in our midst -- as staff, as interns, as colleagues. Several of them indicated that they have persons with disabilities as members of their teams.
While we have a long way to go on disability inclusion, we are already seeing positive actions being taken.
As with every endeavour for which we want collective impact, we need to build partnerships—with Member States, UN entities, the private sector, civil society and academia. I would like to thank DMSPC for bringing us together to learn from each other – from our successes as well as our challenges. I very much look forward to hearing from the speakers here today as they share their experiences.
Realizing the rights of persons with disabilities is not only central to the promise of the 2030 Agenda: to leave no one behind. It is an investment in our common future.
I would like to reiterate the commitment of the Secretary-General, as well as myself, to building a unified and coherent approach to lasting change for persons with disabilities. On this International Day, let us recognize what we have achieved, and work towards a truly inclusive and accessible future for all.
Thank you.