Trainings dedicated to disability issues for specialists working with vulnerable groups, persons with disabilities in particular, were held in Minsk. For two days representatives of NGOs, educational sphere, healthcare, social protection bodies together with lawyers and experts of the legal sector had analyzed the peculiarities of this issue.
For example, the participants considered examples of stigmatization. Why have such stigmatizing notions as “a person with limited abilities”, “chained to a wheelchair”, “sunny people” come in use? What is the role of mass-media in this process, organizations working in the sphere of disability, legislation and other institutions, - says an employee of the Office for the rights of persons with disabilities Anastasia Vaitekhovich.
A lawyer Galina Krot mentioned which international documents Belarus has signed for the prevention of discrimination. The Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities is among them. The expert in the sphere of the rights of persons with disabilities told about possible and rather common discrimination cases. Another problem is that the majority of us has never thought of them and haven’t mentioned. She also spoke about the mechanisms of protection from discrimination.
Unfortunately, as practice shows, there still are stigmatizing and discriminative norms in our legislation, - comments Sergey Drozdovsky, the Coordinator of the Office for the rights of persons with disabilities. But in a legal state it is important to provide an equal for all access to public services not only on paper but in reality. The state has to take it into account otherwise there will be cases of discrimination.
The participants also learned from a lawyer Natalia Mankovskaya about measures of antidiscriminative politics, international standards of freedom from discrimination, methods and technologies of discrimination prevention.
“We are working on Agenda 50 in which there is no place for discrimination”
Stepan Kudravets, the head of day care institution for people with disabilities “Stolinskiy center of social service”:
- I have been working in the sphere of support of people with disabilities for three years. It is not a long term but for me this work is very interesting. I have always wanted to help people – worked in unions, Red Cross and other public initiatives but after I had started to work in the sphere of social support I understood that this is exactly for me. Here I feel more confident and needed because I see this job not only as a way to earn money but I consider it from the moral point of view. Working in such a difficult field I try to improve, learn new things. That is why I always try to take part in seminars like this.
During the seminar I learned more about discrimination and how this notion is defined in Belarus at the legislative level. And I start to understand that people know about this notion but everyone understands it in his own way and here specialists help to categorize all the information.
For our region participation in the seminar means a possibility to get acquainted with colleagues from other regions, communicate to plan a future cooperation, For us it is also important because now we are taking part in the program “Agenda 50” and think how to use the Convention’s principles in our region. We have already held two educational meetings in Stolin on this topic and have started to cooperate with NGOs. Our next plan - the creation of barrier-free touristic routes and infrastructure: informational materials, signs and necessary conditions. This seminar on discrimination strengthens not only our knowledge but also our faith in “accessible” changes.
“We want to render not only medical but also social assistance”
Svetlana Kudravets, chief pediatrician of the Central district hospital of Stolin district:
- I attend such kind of event for the first time and it is very interesting for me. I understood notions “discrimination” and “stigmatization” and some others and now I can clearly define them and use in work. My participation in the seminar has helped me to change my attitude to persons with disabilities, to understand why it is difficult for them to participate in public life equally with other people.
I have some new ideas after the seminar. For example, I want to try to realize some of them in my hospital: I see how difficult it is for persons with disabilities to get to a neurologist or traumatologist because their offices are on the second floor of the building. I want to improve palliative assistance because it is not only a medical but also a social service.
“People with psychic disorders are more prone to be stigmatized”
Kristina Khovanskaya, the head of a Brest club house “Kaleidoskop”:
After the successful approbation of the club house model in Minsk we have decided to develop such a service in other cities. The reason is the following – people with mental disabilities were thrown overboard of social life – they had no place to go and no one wanted to employ them. Even territorial centers having daycare departments couldn’t accept these people. That is why the development of this service in Brest became very topical. We found like-minded people and we did it!
A club house is similar to a daycare center. People go there and work, socialize, adapt and if it is possible they return to active social life – employ or return to activities they had been doing before.
I came to the seminar on discrimination because, as far as I see it, people with mental disorders are the group that is stigmatized most of all. For a long time no one have worked with them, some were just afraid of them. Stereotypes work. They are considered either aggressive or too passive to be able to work.
I would like to create a connection between these people and our society, in particular with employers, to help them to return to active life. All of them can work and it is very important. They would like to work and to contribute to the society equally with others. By doing it they will feel themselves as a part of the society and will not fall out of it. The issue of getting rid of stigma is the most important one in solving issues of mental health.