Photo Exhibition “Only Wings Matter – Break Stereotype” Opens in Geneva

The opening of the photo exhibition “Only Wings Matter – Break Stereotype” took place on the margins of the 37th regular session of UN Human Rights Council. The exhibition was sponsored by the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the UN Office in Geneva and other international organisations together with the Charity Foundation “Give Love to the World”, All-Russian Society of Disabled People, Russian Union of Art Photographers, and Sakhalin Energy Investment Company Ltd.

The main purpose of the exhibition is to tell about Russian experience in involving physically challenged people into the cultural and sports activities, as well as depicting them as people like any one of us, with their joys and problems, and capable of living vibrant and full lives. Each photo is not only a fresh glimpse of the impaired people's lives, but also a depiction of the moments of fighting for a triumphant success and of capacity to be positive in any situation that life offers. The sponsors commented that, on one hand, this project encourages people with special needs to realise themselves through work, arts or sports, while on the other hand, it encourages Russian business to promote and secure such people’s rights.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made a welcoming speech at the opening ceremony. He stressed that an absolute priority of Russia's social policy is provision of support to physically impaired people. Mr Lavrov praised Sakhalin Energy for its sponsorship of the exhibition and its contribution to the development of a barrier-free environment for people with disabilities at Sakhalin. “It is very gratifying that an increasing number of companies in Russia are taking an active stand in promoting human rights, including rights of disabled people. I am convinced that a cooperation of governments, businesses and civil society plays a key role for involving people with disabilities into all aspects of public life", said Mr Lavrov.

Sakhalin Energy for more than 20 years has continuously and on a large-scale provided financing for social projects and has been effectively supporting efforts to address social issues in the region of its business operations. Sakhalin Energy’s focus has always been on projects to support social adjustment of people with disabilities. One of the pictures displayed at the exhibition was made for the “Accessible Sports” project, which is sponsored by Sakhalin Energy. As part of this initiative, Sakhalin Energy financed the procurement of a special lift for people with low mobility to be able to use a swimming pool in the Korsakov Sports Complex in the south of Sakhalin.

“Socially responsible business not only respects the rights of disadvantaged groups of people, including people with disabilities, but also works to promote these rights", said Natalya Gonchar, Head of Social Performance Subdivision in Sakhalin Energy. “This becomes possible where communities, governments and businesses join forces, i.e. work together as partners, to achieve this goal. And this is what the UN member countries encourage us to do in their new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Many works of the amateur and professional photographers are displayed at the exhibition. All these photographs show fortitude and ample capabilities of people with musculoskeletal problems. These include works of the participants in the “Without Barriers” photo contest, which is regularly organised by the All-Russian Society of Disabled People and Russian Union of Artistic Photographers. The exhibition also displays photographs from the “Only Wings Matter” exhibition initiated by the Charity Foundation “Give Love to the World” and held in Moscow in 2017. One of these works won the 3rd prize at the European photo contest “A World for All: Overcoming Disabilities”.

One of the highlights of the exhibition is a photo spread depicting sky dives by people with musculoskeletal problems participating in the pilot rehabilitation project “Sky Therapy”. But most importantly, this extreme sport experience had a positive effect on the participants with disabilities. This highly acclaimed project also won the grant of the Russian President Vladimir Putin for organisation of the 2018 Inter-Regional Skydiving Festival.

The exhibition became another landmark event promoting the rights of people with disabilities that Russia has organised in the Palace of Nations. According to the Russian Foreign Minister, continued work in this area is essential not only to create a comfortable environment for people with special needs, but also to ensure their effective inclusion into society and to overcome existing prejudices and stereotypes.

The picture, displayed at the exhibition, was made for the “Accessible Sports” project, which is sponsored by Sakhalin Energy

01 March 2018