Noémie Alphonse, athlete from Mauritius. Picture courtesy of the Ministry of Social Integration, Social Security and National Solidarity (Mauritius).
Improving the lives of persons with disabilities in Mauritius
SOCIEUX+ is cooperating with the Ministry of Social integration, Social Security and National Solidarity of Mauritius, with the support of the EU Delegation in Mauritius, on an action to improve services for persons with disabilities and the fulfilment of their rights through an assessment of the disability sector.
In the early 1940s in Mauritius, a polio epidemic awakened the consciousness of civil society towards persons with disabilities. Hundreds of children in the small island nation were affected and many who survived became disabled. After the independence of Mauritius in 1968, parastatal bodies and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) gradually started to provide specialised care, education and training to children, adolescents, and adults with disabilities. Both the government and civil society have contributed enormously to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in mainstream Mauritian society.
Compared with the 1960s, modern disability policies have moved from a charity model towards a human-rights model. The policy goals of the Ministry of Social Integration, Social Security and National Solidarity now include building an inclusive society where persons with disabilities are valued as equal to other people, where their skills, talents, and potential are recognised, where their rights are respected, where access barriers to services and employment are removed, and where disability is considered an intrinsic part of human diversity.
For this action, SOCIEUX+ mobilised two European experts to work together with their peers at the Ministry of Social Integration, Social Security and National Solidarity, in particular staff of the Disability Empowerment Unit: Professor Fabian Walling from the University of Applied Sciences of Ludwigsburg in Germany, and Associate Professor Hisayo Katsui from the University of Helsinki in Finland. These experts are assessing the legislation regarding persons with disabilities and making recommendations for improvements, including how to ensure the full implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. During their evaluation, they will also interview staff of the Ministry, as well as other stakeholders and experts. Once this first activity has been achieved, SOCIEUX+ will further cooperate with the Ministry for another action to draft a 2021-2025 action plan for the disability sector.
Both the European Delegation in Mauritius and the Ministry of Social Integration, Social Security and National Solidarity have reaffirmed their commitment to continue working together for the rights of persons with disabilities, as declared in a common statement published to mark Europe Day, on the 9th of May 2021.