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Call for Belarusian mass media to help overcome discrimination against people with disabilities

GOMEL, 30 November (BelTA) – Mass media play a special role in overcoming discrimination against people with disabilities, BelTA learned from UNDP project coordinator in Belarus Natalia Karkanitsa on 30 November. She took part in a meeting of representatives of regional mass media in Gomel on 30 November. The meeting was held as part of the UN regional campaign Inclusive Belarus in order to discuss barrier-free environment from the point of view of mass media. According to the UNDP project coordinator in Belarus, mass media play a colossal role in shaping the public opinion. The fact should be taken into account as one of the key factors in efforts aimed at overcoming discrimination against people with disabilities. “Even the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities gives a special role to mass media considering the fact that the state has to help them shape the proper public opinion in order to help people with disabilities better implement their rights,” remarked the UNDP official. Participants of the meeting discussed various matters, including the plans to implement the government program on social protection and population employment assistance in 2016-2020. The reporters shared their experience of covering the operation of municipal government agencies and public organizations, which deal with the problems that people with disabilities run into. Galina Gusakova, Deputy Head of the Printed Mass Media and External Relations Office of the Belarusian Information Ministry, shared her vision of mass media's work with BelTA. “It is time for us to stop clinging to stereotypes. The fact that a ramp has been installed in a shop is not news, but the normal course of life. The story about skills of an artist shouldn't start with the mention of his or her disability but with the pictures. The disability may be mentioned at the very end if appropriate. The society should judge people as persons first,” stressed the official. Exhibitions were also arranged by UN agencies, public associations, local initiatives, and embassies in Gomel as part of the UN action Inclusive Belarus: Sustainable Development Goals for Everyone. The exhibitions were meant to focus the attention of the general public on equal rights and opportunities, the need to involve all people in society development processes regardless of their age, sex, health state, ethnicity, religion, or origin.