Activities of NSIOM and MIMPublic debate for strengthening the cooperation mechanisms among the organizations of persons with disabilities, journalists, and competent institutions
On 16th of September 2021, the Macedonian Institute for Media and the National Council of Disability Organizations of Macedonia organized a public debate aimed at strengthening the cooperation mechanisms among the organizations of persons with disabilities, journalists, and competent institutions. The public debate was the final event of the project “Partnership, Advocacy and Communication for Efficient Inclusion of People with Disabilities”, implemented by MIM and NCDOM, with financial support of Civica Mobilitas programme. The public debate included three panel discussions:
1. Challenges and perspectives in the social protection sector and social services
2. Towards inclusive education – key steps to ensure education for all children and
3. Priorities to ensure effective health care for all children and persons with disabilities.
The panel discussions were moderated by experienced journalists, and each panel had equal representation of a representative of a relevant ministry, national organization of persons with disability and journalist/editor in a medium. The representatives of the ministries presented the current and planned activities related to promoting the rights of persons with disability, whilst the representatives of the organizations addressed the challenges and problems faced by persons with disabilities in the areas of social protection, education, and health care. Also, the representatives of the media gave their views regarding the priorities in these three areas.
The Republic Centre – PORAKA, as a member of NCDOM, actively took part in the organization and realization of the public debate. The Secretary General, Vasilka Dimoska de Jongh MD, participated with a presentation in the first panel, and the Program Manager, Vlado Krstovski, took part in the opening part of the debate, addressing the participants on behalf of NCDOM.
The public debate offered possibilities for dialogue between the stakeholders to jointly contribute for better acceptance of persons with disabilities and realization of their human rights. The participants agreed that the change of the public perceptions and breaking the prejudice towards persons with disabilities is one of the basic priority areas for action. Evidently why: if we want disability to be seen as a human rights issue, then we must continuously contribute to the affirmation and acceptance of the fundamental right of persons with disabilities to live in the community and to fully participate in its social, cultural, political, and economic life.
Raising awareness regarding the rights of persons with disabilities largely depends on the way in which the media portrays persons with disabilities and report about issues relating their human rights. Therefore, it is of utmost importance for all other stakeholders to support the media. In this entire process, the civil organization of persons with disabilities, state institutions, those who create and implement policies, and the media themselves have equal place. All of them are significant acters in creating inclusive societies for persons with disabilities, and it is, therefore, essential to join forces and establish cooperation. However, that cooperation is often problematic and there seems to be a missing link, which is in fact insufficient understanding and inadequate communication.
Therefore, the main conclusion of the debate is that the cooperation between the organizations of persons with disabilities, journalists, and competent institutions must be fostered and sustainable relations must be established in order to more effectively advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities.