Permanent Mission of Portugal to the United Nations

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Statement by H.E. Ms. Ana Sofia Antunes, Secretary of State for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities of Portugal, at the 55th Session of the UN Commission for Social Development

New York, 1 February 2017

Mr. or Madame Chair,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Portugal aligns itself with the statement made earlier by the representative of Malta on behalf of the European Union.

It is a great honour for me to address you and the participants in this 55th session of the Commission for Social Development, not only because Portugal has for a long time contributed actively to its work but also because it is the first time I address you after the election of Portugal as one of the 40 Member States of this Commission.

As the Portuguese State Secretary for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, I am deeply committed to the work of this Commission that devotes particular attention to the situation of vulnerable groups.

The priority theme for this Session “Strategies for the eradication of poverty to achieve sustainable development for all” is indeed very timely. Poverty is a multidimensional phenomenon that may acquire different forms in different regions of the world but has one common consequence: it deprives women and men, girls and boys, from fulfilling their full potential and well-being

Therefore, poverty eradication requires strategic, integrated and coherent measures at all levels targeting groups such as persons with disabilities, migrants and refugees, and persons from ethnic and religious minority groups.

In Portugal as an example of an integrated and coherent measure under consideration to combat poverty among vulnerable groups, I would like to refer to a new social benefit for persons with a duly certified disability or incapacity of 60% or more. It will promote life with dignity and independent living. It is a benefit with a life cycle perspective that will be adjusted to the different needs persons with disabilities face at different stages of their lives.

In Portugal, the long term unemployed that face particular difficulties in returning to the job market, especially those over 50 years of age, are one of our priorities.

But today, for many working poor, work does not mean a decent salary, nor just working conditions, nor adequate social protection. They deserve special attention. We need to work towards a sustainable system of a basic income guarantee that leaves no one behind as clearly expressed in the Sustainable Development Goals.

I would also like to take this opportunity to say that Portugal is deeply committed to the SDG process. We recognize that the SDG’s are universal and indivisible and that all the goals must be realised for everyone in all countries, in particular those who have traditionally been left behind.

For the realization of Goal number 1 – To eradicate poverty in all its forms – we have identified a number of measures and targets, such as:

• Program to Combat Poverty among Children and Young People till 2030;

• Enhancing the protection of older people through the Solidarity Supplement Benefit;

• Reviewing the Social Integration Income as a tool to combat extreme poverty and putting in place a new strategy to eradicate homelessness till 2030.

In all these measures, we will keep in mind the gendered impact of poverty on women of all ages and in all groups.

Ensuring the rights and well-being of older people continues to be a fundamental part of the Portuguese agenda for social development. That is why I am very pleased to inform you that Portugal will be hosting the 4th UNECE Ministerial Conference on Ageing, which will be held this year in September in Lisbon on the theme “A Sustainable Society for All Ages: Realizing the Potential of Living Longer” with three sub-themes – Recognizing the potential of older persons and intergenerational solidarity; encouraging longer working life and ability to work; and ensuring ageing with dignity.

We hope to have representation of Governments, NGOs and experts, not only from UNECE countries but also from other regions of the world that are committed to continue exploring how the human rights of older women and men can best be strengthened in our ageing societies.

We look forward to the results of this Session of the Commission for Social Development, hoping that the documents that will be negotiated and adopted on the priority theme and for the protection of social groups will truly contribute to make its work more relevant to Governments and the people they represent.

Thank you.