This week, Ciné-ONU had its first ever film screening in London with Victor Buhler’s touching and thought-provoking documentary, A Whole Lott More.
The screening was organized to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
A Whole Lott More follows the lives of three people with developmental disabilities, TJ, Kevin and Wanda, struggling to earn their way in the world. Although each story is unique, they are united, not by their disabilities, but by their abilities to work and their desire to be recognized by society for their skills and contributions to the work place.
The film was followed by a panel discussion with one of Britain's most famous paralympians and broadcaster, Ade Adepitan, as well as director, Victor Buhler; the Guardian's social policy editor, Patrick Butler; Dima Yared, Human Rights Officer at OHCHR’s regional office for Europe; and moderated by the Chief Executive of BRITDOC, Jess Search.
Together they discussed the barriers that face disabled people in the UK and agreed that even though the UK has made great strides in supporting disabled people, this has mostly been in improving physical access, such as access to transport and buildings. However with only 46.3% of disabled persons employed in the UK, there is still a need for a paradigm shift in policies to improve access to employment.
As Ade explained, “At the moment the first barrier is access and it’s the barrier we are all talking about in the UK. But I think the bigger barrier is the access to rights, and work, and the need for a change in culture- to change the way people perceive those with disabilities, especially persons with developmental disabilities.“
However, this is not just a challenge for the UK. In developing countries the unemployment rate of persons with a disability is between 80% and 90% and access to society and services are almost nonexistent.
A recent UN thematic study on the work and employment of persons with disabilities identified stigma, and stereotyping of persons with disability as being in some way “unsuitable” to participate in working life, as the core challenge for employing persons with disabilities. Dima Yared explained to the audience that this study had outlined obligations to states to enhance the employment opportunities of persons with disabilities in the open labour market. By highlighting this issue to states, the UN is making a proactive effort to help make the paradigm shift and encourage the elimination of all barriers for those with disabilities.
Raising awareness of global issues and creating discussions such as this, is what makes Ciné-ONU the perfect platform for engaging members of the public and stakeholders and with A Whole Lott More we hope to have laid the foundations for the future success of Ciné-ONU London.
International Day of Persons with Disabilities is marked on the 3rd December.
Photo: Panelists (from left to right) Ade Adepitan, Victor Buhler, Jess Search, Patrick Butler and Dima Yared. UNRIC/Frederik Bordon.
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