SM Supermalls President Ms. Annie Garcia at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.
SM Prime Holdings was recently invited by the United Nations to present its programs for persons with disabilities in the recent 4th Convention of State Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.
SM Supermalls President Annie Garcia and Vice President for Operations Bien Mateo presented the company’s initiatives through its SM Cares program to over 500 delegates from various countries. SM was the only private corporation invited to attend the event.
Her speech, Realizing the Right to Work and Employment, centered on the efforts of the SM Supermalls to help PWDs to get gainfully employed. She noted that SM Malls offers business opportunities for PWDs through shops that offer therapeutic massages owned and operated by persons with visual impairments; as well as through one of its merchant’s Kultura Filipino’s Crafts for a Cause program.
There are also employment opportunities for PWDs in the malls as attendants in elevators, comfort rooms, ticket booths, and sales personnel of tenants. She added that since the SM malls have facilities that are accessible and barrier free, its 15,000 locators have a chance of considering employment for persons with disabilities.
Other PWD initiatives mentioned were livelihood programs for PWD farmers who can sell their produce to mall customers through a Pick and Pay method; as well as facilities for bowling and ice skating as well as well as its Photography with a Difference program.
All these “have transformed our business environment into a community of opportunities open to PWDs, to enjoy bonding moments with their families, to be independent and free, to show their abilities above their disabilities, and an environment friendly to entrepreneurial and employment opportunities.”
Department of Social Welfare and Development Undersecretary Alicia Bala represented the Philippine government and delivered its message of support to the convention on the rights of PWDs. Other speakers included Ms. Barbara Murray, Senior Disability Specialist of the International Labor Organization in Geneva; Mr. Jared Abidi of the National Center for the Promotion of Employment for Disabled People in India; Mr. Francisco Rivero of Mexico; Ms. Jin Ang, Vice Chair and Member of the CRPD Committee; and Mr. Stig Langvad, Member of the CRPD Committee.