Creating Accessible Societies (2009)

The Sabanci Foundation’s 3rd annual seminar was held at “the Seed” conference centre, located in the Sabanci University Sakip Sabanci Museum, on December 10, 2009. Besides Ms. Guler Sabanci, Chairman of Sabanci Foundation’s Board of Trustees Ms. Dilek Sabanci, Member of Sabanci Foundation’s Board of Trustees, and Mr. Husnu Pacacioglu General Manager of Sabanci Foundation, academics, civil society, third sector private and public sector representatives were present at the seminar entitled "Creating Accessible Societies” with a specific focus on persons with disabilities, women and youth. The seminar was held under the auspices of the European Consortium of Foundations on Human Rights and Disability.

This year speakers were Charlotte Mcclain-Nhlapo, Senior Operations Specialist, World Bank and Dr. Aubrey Webson, Institutional Development Consultant, Perkins School for the Blind. The seminar was moderated by Ipeknur Cem Taha, Creator and host of Global Leaders TV Program.

Ms. Guler Sabanci pointed out that they focused on women, youth and persons with disabilities with the goal of making a difference in other people lives and contributing to social development. She said that these underprivileged groups should be provided with more access and equal opportunities to actively participate in the social and economic life.

Emphasizing the necessity of contributing to civil society projects for social development, Ms. Guler Sabanci stated: Sabanci Foundation funds that were allocated for Grant Programs reached approximately 5 Million Turkish Liras. We aim to provide long term and sustainable contributions through our grant programs instead of addressing daily needs and problems.

In her opening speech, Ms. Guler Sabanci mentioned that they received 168 project applications from 48 different cities of Turkey, and that these projects are still in the evaluation process. Ms. Guler Sabanci stated: We believe that showcasing people who work for social development will be an inspiration for other people. For this purpose, we aspire to contribute to the social development through Turkey Changemakers , a TV Program hosted by Cuneyt Ozdemir.

Ms. Dilek Sabanci also gave speech at the seminar and expressed the need of an increase in social participation of women, youth and persons with disabilities. She added that providing accessible life spaces has, therefore, a vital importance. Ms. Dilek Sabanci stated: This is every citizen duty and public bodies, local administrations, foundations and NGO all have their own share of duties. There is no doubt that solely providing physical access would not prove to be sufficient in making a difference in people lives. Therefore, we should consider social aspects of accessibility.

Ms. Dilek Sabanci also claimed that the European Consortium of Foundations on Human Rights and Disability - of which Sabanci Foundation is one of the founding members- aims to encourage and support both the ratification and spreading of the application of the United Nations Convention in Europe. She also added that projects carried out by the Consortium are of crucial importance for Turkey.

Dr. Aubrey Webson, Institutional Development Consultant of Perkins School for the Blind, stated that overcoming obstacles begins in the family. Therefore, he believes that families who have children with disabilities should not feel ashamed of them. In contrast, they should support their social participation. He also indicated that attitudes towards persons with disabilities within the society are of crucial importance, as well as removal of physical barriers. Dr. Webson stated that the real change can only be achieved with social inclusion of persons with disabilities. He also pointed out that despite all efforts, children with disabilities are excluded from schools, and that employment of persons with disabilities is another significant problem, as seventy percent of well-educated persons with disabilities are unemployed.

Charlotte Mcclain Nhlapo, a Senior Operations Officer at the World Bank, stated that differences should be respected and that having a disability should not be an obstacle for a person to reach his/her ambitions. She also explained that persons with disabilities must be socially included and that the cost of projects aimed at the social inclusion of persons with disabilities is less than the cost of excluding them.

Nhlapo also emphasized that women with disabilities are subject to multiple discrimination and that societies should develop an integrated approach towards the issue of persons with disabilities. Finally, she pointed out that rights of children with disabilities is another crucial issue and that persons with disabilities are under higher risk of being abused.


Institutional Development Consultant, Perkins School for the Blind

A specialist in management and leadership training and policy formulation, Dr. Aubrey Webson has been working as an Institutional Development Consultant for the Perkins School for the Blind since 1992. Formerly Dr. Webson was with Sight Savers International and Helen Keller International (HKI), where he advised the HKI African and Caribbean development programs. From 1981 to 1987, he was the Chief Executive of the Caribbean Council for the Blind, and has also served as Adjunct Professor or guest lectured at Wheelock College, East Nazarene College, Boston University, Boston College the University of South Africa, University of Vender and the Uganda College of Special Education. Dr. Aubrey Webson has been credited with developing the Africa Forum (an all-Africa conference on services for the blind) and authored NGOs and Ethics (2002) and NGO Corruption and Democracy (2001).

CHARLOTTE MCCLAIN-NHLAPO Senior Operations Specialist, World Bank

Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo, a trained human rights lawyer, was appointed by President Nelson Mandela to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in August 1999. She was subsequently reappointed by President Mbeki in October 2002. In 2004, on a leave of absence from the Commission, she joined the World Bank in Washington DC. Currently, she works in the East Asia and the Pacific region and the Africa region as a Senior Operations Specialist at the Bank. Over the years she has worked primarily in the area of human rights, with a particular interest in marginalized groups: children, women and people with disabilities. Before joining SAHRC she worked as a Project Officer on Child Protection for UNICEF. She has previously served as an expert on a number of UN Committees in the areas of child rights, the right for food and the rights of people with disabilities. She also represented the National Human Rights Institutions at the UN during the process of developing a Convention for People with Disabilities .

For the written document of the seminar please click here...

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