On July 20, AGENDA partner Thailand Association of the Blind (TAB) conducted a virtual consultation meeting with the representative of Thailand to SOMSWD, Mr. Siripong Sriarkha, to ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) Ms. Amara Pongsapich, and the representative of Thailand to ACWC Mr. Wanchai Roujanavong. TAB requested updates from the three ASEAN Sectoral Bodies representatives on the progress of the Enabling Masterplan’s implementation based on their mandates. Thirty-one participants including 18 female participants joined the meeting. The former representative of Thailand to AICHR who currently serves as the member of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (CESCR), Dr. Seree Nonthasoot, was also in attendance and highlighted the importance of mainstreaming disability rights in all ASEAN pillars, namely the political-security, economic and socio-cultural pillars. Dr. Seree highlighted that ASEAN must start preparing for the Enabling Masterplan’s approaching mid-term review. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, he recommended that ASEAN set up a committee comprised of persons with disabilities to represent the disability community to continue advocating for disability rights at the regional level. He mentioned that alternatively, another step could be the creation of a disability rights officer position at ASEC to further advance disability rights regionally especially considering the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms. Pongsapich verbally supported Dr. Seree’s recommendation.
Mr. Sriarka informed that ASEC and SOMSWD are currently developing a results-based M&E framework of the Enabling Masterplan and stressed the importance of cooperation among stakeholders at the national and regional levels to implement the Enabling Masterplan. Mr. Roujanavong acknowledged that certain groups, such as women and children with disabilities, are still marginalized and agreed that the Enabling Masterplan can be utilized to realize their rights in all aspects of life. He highlighted challenges faced by ACWC such as budget constraints and concerns over the lack of time allocated to complete all the activities. Lastly, Dr. Samreng Virachanang from Disability Thailand (DTH), whom TAB collaborated with to organize this meeting, emphasized that all stakeholders must work together to eliminate discrimination towards persons with disabilities and increase financial support and benefits for their assistants or caregivers. After the meeting, the speakers participated in a joint press conference to convey the aforementioned points and verbally supported the implementation of the Enabling Masterplan. SOMSWD did not provide further updates on the progress of the M&E framework during the press conference. One media representative joined the press conference via Zoom. The press conference was aired in the Thai language and live streamed through TAB’s Enabling Masterplan Facebook Page