“As a wheelchair user, the lack of accessible spaces in Yerevan has been a constant source of frustration. I often have to rely on help from other people, which is not only unpleasant, but also an issue of dignity and deprivation of independent life and work.
When I became a member of the Yerevan City Council, I even had to struggle getting into the municipality building – a public building and essentially my workplace. Having a colleague in a wheelchair was an unusual experience for other City Council members, too. But such challenges motivate me even further, because I know people with disabilities deserve decent lives and equal opportunities, not benefits and pensions.
I was part of the movement to introduce inclusive education in Armenia, and its adoption as a state policy is one of my proud achievements. Now it’s time to take that inclusive approach and apply it to all spheres of public life.
Currently I work as the Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, coordinating issues regarding people with disabilities. One of my goals is to make sure people with disabilities are in the driver’s seat when it comes to decisions about their lives.
My fight isn’t over yet. Armenia ratified the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities more than 8 years ago, but we still don’t have a law based on the human rights model of disability. I am determined to change that.”
From developing apps to reforming laws, these changemakers are working across Europe and Central Asia to make governments more open and accountable.
Zaruhi Batoyan works as the Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs in Armenia. Photo: Eduard Arustamyan
Develop Armenia: Supporting Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, we will launch a special and interactive initiative in September. Hope that all the Armenian community will contribute and support us!