PHNOM PENH: The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation organized a Day of the Deaf to promote the rights and freedoms of deaf people within the government, civil society and home life. Under the theme “Inclusive Working Environment for the Deaf for Development,” this year marks the 11th annual celebration in Cambodia and the 66th celebration internationally.
On September 17, Social Affairs Minister Chea Somethy gathered with around 400 people at the ministry including deaf people, development partners, and ministry officials.
Secretary of State for the Ministry of Social Affairs and Secretary-General of the Disability Action Council, Em Chan Makara, spoke at the event and noted that the Day of the Deaf has been celebrated annually since 1958 and that there are currently 133 countries in the world organizing events to celebrate the event according to their country’s customs and traditions.
The United Nations has designated September 23 as the International Day of Sign Languages in order to raise awareness of the importance of sign language in the full realization of the human rights of people who are deaf. According to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are more than 70 million deaf people worldwide. More than 80% of them live in developing countries. Sec. Em Chan Makara noted that the deaf are a valuable human resource in achieving sustainable development for Cambodia and reinforced the Kingdom’s commitment to the UN’s “No one left behind” policy.
Minister Chea Somethy said that the day is an opportunity for leaders of ministries, institutions, civil society organizations and the deaf to meet once a year and participate indiscriminately to create a positive working environment for the deaf. He claimed that the Royal Government clearly understands the needs and challenges of people with disabilities and has a long-term vision for development within the social protection system. He called on all present to continue to better the livelihoods of people with disabilities, especially the deaf in Cambodia, by ensuring the National Strategic Plan on Disability and other legal documents related to disability become a reality.