Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi announced on Monday that the Tahya Misr Fund will provide an EGP 80 million donation to the new investment fund for people with special needs.
The president made his announcement during the 'Differently Abled' event held in Cairo in celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
The new investment fund was announced by the Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wali earlier today at the event, as part of the government's ongoing efforts to promote equal opportunities for citizens with disabilities.
El-Sisi said the government does not spare any effort in supporting citizens with disabilities.
The celebration, which was held in New Cairo's Al-Manara Convention Centre, was attended by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, Social Solidarity Minister Ghada Wali, a large numbers of Egyptians with disabilities – including award-winning athletes – and their families, as well as ministers, public officials and celebrities.
The event was co-hosted by professional swimmer Rahma Khaled, who earlier this month became Egypt's first TV presenter with Down Syndrome.
Egypt has designated 2018 the year of persons with special needs, who are estimated at 10 million of Egypt's 104 million population.
At the beginning of the event, Minister of Sports and Youth Ashraf Sobhi praised the care showed by the president and the efforts exerted by Egypt's young people to improve the lives of persons with disabilities.
President expresses gratitude
“Every citizen should pay a part of every pound he earns for [people with special needs]. I call on the parliament and the government to issue a decision to deduct money for the new fund,” El-Sisi said, adding that the ministry of religious endowments has already contributed EGP 20 million.
Surrounded by a number of children and athletes with special needs on the podium, El-Sisi said he would not miss the celebration, adding that he is sure the viewers share his sense of "love, compassion, and gratitude."
“I want to tell you that the blessing we are in is because of them and their parents, who support them day and night, and wish them a decent life,” El-Sisi said, adding that God protects and preserves the country for the sake of people with disabilities.
“For them, please protect our country from all evil,” El-Sisi said.
El-Sisi said that he is addressing people with special needs as a "main component in developing the country through their achievements in different fields."
The president also highlighted the government's efforts in aiding citizens with special needs in the areas of sports, housing, and health, among others.
El-Sisi called on the government to prepare a comprehensive survey on people with special needs in Egypt, including their numbers and the type of disabilities.
The president also called on the media to raise awareness about the issues or problems they might face in society; and provide interfaces that are friendly for them.
“My sons and daughters, the challenges faced by Egypt, big and small, should only be an incentive for you to exert more efforts for empowerment and integration,” El-Sisi said.
The new EGP 100 million fund
Social Solidarity Minister Wali announced at the event that Egypt has established an investment fund worth EGP 100 million aimed at empowering people with special needs.
Wali said the board of directors of Nasser Social Bank agreed on the establishment of the fund in cooperation with companies and private banks; with the banks aiming to raise EGP 100 million to be used for services for persons with disabilities.
The minister highlighted the government's recent efforts to empower and integrate people with disabilities, noting a newly passed law and the training of 400 disabled people for jobs in tourism.
According to Wali, Egypt provides financial support worth EGP 4.2 billion to 900,000 people with disabilities, as well as educational scholarships and jobs for 1,900 people in the private sector in 2018.
Bylaws of new legislation announced
Prime Minister Madbouly issued on Monday the executive bylaws regulating the recently passed Law of Persons with Disabilities.
The prime minister urged all state bodies to implement this statute to guarantee the integration of citizens with disabilities into the country's development process.
According to Article 81 from Egypt’s 2014 constitution, the state must provide work opportunities for individuals with disabilities, and allocate a percentage of these opportunities to them, in addition to adequate equipping public utilities and the surrounding environment.
Under the law, government and non-governmental bodies are required to provide a package of services to disabled citizens in the health, education and other domains.
The bylaws mandate the ministries of health and social solidarity with creating a database of information of all citizens with special needs.
Persons with disabilities will also be entitled to receive monthly cash support if they are unable to work due to their disability.
The law also stipulates that at least 5 percent of government housing units should be allocated to people with disabilities and that cars for disabled persons should be customs free.
It stipulates that working hours are to be reduced for persons with disabilities in all public and private institiutions by one hour without a reduction in pay.
The law also stipulates that all university dormitories must reserve at least 10 percent of their room capacity for students with disabilities.
It also mandates a 5 percent quota for persons with disabilities in all schools and universities, and a 5 percent employment quota for persons with disabilities in all public and private businesses.
This report was compiled by Marina Barsoum, Menna Alaa El-Din