On June 12-13, 2017, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), in cooperation with the National Assembly of Persons with Disabilities of Ukraine (NAPD), organized a conference in Kyiv on “Equal Access: Strengthening and Safeguarding Human Rights.” This video was developed by IFES with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Global Affairs Canada, and the British Embassy in Kyiv. A transcript of the video is available below.
Lesiya Valiayeva, Regional Community Liaison Coordinator in the Cherkasy region: The polling stations are not properly equipped. People do not have the opportunity to express their opinion and give their vote to the candidate they prefer. There is no information available and no access to information. Something needs to be done about this. I myself was a candidate in 2015, and I saw what happens in reality with my own eyes.
Liudmyla Fursova, Office of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights: A person with a disability, in principle, has all the same rights as any other person. In this situation, the main task of the state is to create conditions that would help people with disabilities to exercise their electoral rights on an equal basis.
Lev Partskhaladze, Deputy Minister of Regional Development, Building and Housing and Communal Services of Ukraine: We should raise the awareness of our people and public officials to make them less indifferent.
Yuliya Shypilova, IFES Ukraine Project Manager: When we are talking about equal access to the electoral process, we do not say that we are creating any privileges for certain categories of our citizens. We just say that we should take steps to ensure that people with disabilities have the same opportunity to participate in the electoral process as all other citizens.
Valeriy Sushkevych, Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: A really civilized European society is actually impossible without the electoral right.
Mykola Makar, representative of the National Assembly of Persons with Disabilities in Ukraine in Ivano-Frankivsk region: In places where disabled persons' organizations are active, local authorities are willing to cooperate, and so on. In other words, this has to be solved by establishing contacts and by establishing collaboration this means you need to press for it. Knock and the other door will be opened to you.
Karim Morcos, Director, Head of Development Cooperation at the Embassy of Canada in Ukraine: We've built, through partnership with IFES and Election Commission, a working group with civil society to press these issues.
Mykola Fedorenko, representative of the public movement of persons with disabilities in the Poltava region: Why do people need to be active, including those with a disability? Because you are a person, because you are a citizen, because you have rights, you have responsibilities. And this not only may be used but must be used.
Makar: Each time I go to the elections and vote; why? Because I have two little kids, and I want them to live in a normal country.
Maria Nikitina, “Lider”, the Chernivtsi regional organization of persons with disabilities: Each of us has the right to use the moment of voting. After all every conscious citizens chooses the authority s/he deserves for him/herself. Each of us has the right to give our vote and to be elected. I hope that every year, with every election process, the number of people with disabilities elected will be increasing in Ukraine. Only after that will the mentality of people and their attitudes towards persons with disabilities change rapidly in Ukraine. Maybe after that, our country will become a really inclusive one.