UNITED NATIONS :UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which protects the rights of some 1.5 billion people around the world. He was addressing a conference of signatories to the Convention at UN Headquarters in New York on Tuesday, describing it as one of the most widely-ratified international human rights treaties, which reaffirms that people with disabilities are entitled to the same treatment as everybody else. “But signing and ratifying the Convention is not enough. Implementation is essential,” Guterres said. “Societies must be organized so that all people, including those with disabilities, can exercise their rights freely.” The Secretary-General underscored that countries apply the Convention to their development policies, investments and legal systems, which is an important step “if we are to fulfil the central pledge of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: to leave no one behind.” “We cannot afford to ignore or marginalize the contributions of 1.5 billion people,” he stated, pointing out that more had to be done for people with disabilities to fully participate in society. People with disabilities still often face overt discrimination, stereotyping and lack of respect for their basic human rights with women and girls disproportionately affected. “Every minute, more than 30 women are seriously injured or disabled during childbirth,” elaborated the UN chief. Moreover, women and girls with disabilities face multiple barriers to accessing education, health services and jobs.