Finland's first Action Plan on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will strengthen the rights of people with disabilities
Finland has published, for the first time, a National Action Plan on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Action Plan will implement the UN Convention that entered into force in summer 2016. The aim is to strengthen the rights of persons with disabilities and to improve their opportunities for participation.
The objective of the Action Plan is to raise awareness of the rights of persons with disabilities and to take account of their rights in all activities in the different administrative branches and in society at large. Accessibility, availability and participation are essential when implementing the rights of persons with disabilities.
- Everyone is entitled to basic and human rights. However, there are groups of people who cannot use these rights until particular attention is paid to the implementation of these rights and special measures are carried out to secure the rights. Persons with disabilities is one such group. Therefore, we need the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as well as national actions. This is what Pirkko Mattila, Minister of Social Affairs and Health, stated at the publication launch of the National Action Plan on the UN Convention on 13 March.
The Action Plan contains 82 measures that the ministries are committed to implement. Part of the measures will be implemented during the current Government's term of office. Some measures take a longer time to carry out.
There is much room for improvement in the implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities
According to a survey conducted last autumn, persons with disabilities felt, as a rule, that their rights are secured relatively poorly. The right to work was considered as the objective that was achieved least well. An adequate standard of living and social protection emerged in the survey as the primary issues to be rectified.
- Work and an adequate income are in a key position when we think about the opportunities of people with disabilities to live independently and to participate. I find it very important that working should always be economically profitable. We must remove people's fear that their income will weaken if they start to work, said Minister Mattila.
- Safeguarding employment for people with partial work capacity is one of the Government’s goals, and it is being carried out by the key project Career opportunities for people with partial work ability. The key project is constructing, among many other measures, a linear model to combine pension and earned income, Minister Mattila continued.
Services are also part of social protection. The Social Welfare Act, and particularly the Disability Services Act, secure that persons with disabilities receive assistance in their everyday lives. The services will be further developed as part of the ongoing reform of regional government and health and social services.
Persons with disabilities participated in drawing up the Action Plan
A key principle of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities involves the inclusion of persons with disabilities in decision-making that concerns them. The Advisory Board for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (VANE) was responsible for drawing up the National Action Plan, and the Advisory Board will also coordinate the national implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Advisory Board includes representatives of disability organisations, labour market organisations and the ministries with key significance to the rights of persons with disabilities.
Disability organisations and persons with disabilities were heard, as agreed, when drawing up the Action Plan. They provided important information on how the matters relating to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities should be primarily promoted.
Tea Hoffrén, Coordinator, tel. +358 2951 63220
Merja Heikkonen, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 2951 63203
Eveliina Pöyhönen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, +358 2951 63303
Right to social inclusion and equality. The National Action Plan on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2018-2019 (Publications of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 2018:2) (in Finnish)