Photo: Nino Zedginidze/UNDP

In the run-up to the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Georgia’s civil service reaffirms its commitments to creating an inclusive environment where every person – with no exceptions – will be treated without discrimination or prejudice.

On 2 December, the Civil Service Bureau (CSB) organized a high-level conference to discuss a range of issues associated with social inclusion and equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities in the Georgian civil service. Event participants included representatives from Government, Parliament, civil society and international organisations.

The conference was supported by the United Kingdom (UK) Government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as part of their broader assistance to public administration reform in Georgia.

“Georgia’s civil sector is taking active steps to protect the rights of people with disabilities and ensure that they have a voice and agency in public life. The Action Plan adopted in April 2021 sets out comprehensive measures to create inclusive opportunities for training and employment, to study and address the challenges faced by people with disabilities in civil service and to raise awareness among civil servants,” said CSB Head, Catherine Kardava.

“A more diverse and inclusive civil service leads to better decisions and better delivery of public services that work for everyone. The UK is proud to assist Georgia to implement systemic reforms to tackle the barriers disabled people face in the public sector, and to make its civil service as inclusive as possible,” said the British Embassy’s Deputy Head of Mission, Clare Allbless.

“People with disabilities must have every opportunity to pursue a public-sector career. UNDP welcomes the joint commitment by the government, Parliament and civil society to build an inclusive environment and break the stigmas that marginalize people with disabilities. However, much work remains to be done in terms of hiring practices and educational and training opportunities,” said UNDP Head in Georgia Nick Beresford.

Georgia has made strong legal commitments to protect the rights of persons with disabilities. In  2013, the country ratified the landmark UN Convention on disability. In 2020, Georgia passed a national Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Despite these far-reaching commitments and guarantees, people with disabilities remain largely invisible in Georgian society and often face discrimination and stigma, including in education, employment and economic activity. For example, out of tens of thousands of civil servants currently employed in Georgia, only 51 are persons with disabilities. The situation is no better in other sectors.

UNDP has been assisting to protect disability rights in Georgia for over a decade. This work has included supporting the development and implementation of disability-sensitive legislation, promoting disability rights at the municipal level and ensuring that persons with disabilities have access to public spaces, such as the Public Service Hall, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Parliament, and can make full use of public services.

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