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OAS and El Salvador call for the promotion of the labor rights of persons with disabilities

  June 3, 2011

On the occasion of the 41st General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) in El Salvador, the Trust for the Americas today organized the Regional Workshop for Key Players in Promoting the Labor Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Central America, which reviewed the relevant policies and initiatives that exist in the region.

The result of the day’s work was a series of recommendations, which were compiled and presented to the OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, at the event’s closing ceremony. The ceremony was also attended by Vanda Pignato, the First Lady of the Republic of El Salvador and Chair of the Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (CEDDIS).

In his closing ceremony address, Secretary General Insulza noted that people with disabilities in Latin America and the Caribbean number at least 80 million, of whom almost 80 percent live in conditions of poverty or extreme poverty. “That exclusion is even greater when we see that many of them lack adequate arenas and opportunities to forge their own destinies. Many of them, of working age, are unable to compete on the labor market because of the numerous physical, social, attitude, and cultural barriers that exclude them from the development agenda,” he explained.

In recognizing the efforts that have been made by governments and organizations at all levels to promote the full participation of people with disabilities within society, the head of the hemispheric body described the workshop “as an indication of the importance of emphasizing the labor rights of people with disabilities. The promotion of workplace and educational reforms, the adaptation of physical infrastructure, and the implementation of programs for social inclusion and work training are necessary conditions for the right to decent work to be enjoyed in full.”

The Secretary General called on workers’ and business organizations and “on everyone involved in this effort to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace, since it is a fundamental right for improving their lives and, consequently, democracy and development in our societies.”

In her address, Irene Klinger, Director of the OAS Department of International Affairs, spoke of the establishment of the Technical Secretariat of the Program of Action for the Decade of the Americas for the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities (2006-2016). She explained that the OAS “has created an increasingly broad arena to enable different sectors of society to contribute to the design of policies within the Organization and to the adoption of specific programs, in line with the recommendations that you have offered. Thanks to that, we have a specific program for this topic in Panama.”

In closing the event, the First Lady of the Republic of El Salvador, Vanda Pignato, again noted that the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the workforce is a goal to which the country’s government has assigned a high priority, but she warned that it “was not an easy objective to attain. If the countries of the Americas were subject to an examination, they would all pass the test in that they have laws for people with disabilities, but putting the provisions into practice is not always an easy task.” The Secretariat for Social Inclusion of the Salvadoran government also expressed its gratitude for the OAS’s initiative in promoting this topic, which has social, economic, and human rights dimensions.

The event, held in the Salvadoran capital, was part of the efforts to promote the Partnership in Opportunities for Employment through Technology in the Americas program (POETA), which works for the employment and social inclusion of at-risk youth through access to and use of technology, training, and employment promotion. The Trust for the Americas, a nonprofit entity associated with the OAS, currently has 112 POETA centers in twenty countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, bringing benefits to more than 450,000 people in the Hemisphere.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-704/11