The global forum to further the empowerment and inclusion of disabled people.

VIP Reception

VIP Ministerial Speeches and Reception 

Moderators: Dr Stephen Duckworth and Roy O’Shaughnessy

    • Verena Bentele, Federal Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Germany
    • Jia Yong, Vice President, China Disabled Persons’ Federation
    • Penny Mordaunt, Minister of State for Disabled People, UK
    • Stephen Sui, Under Secretary for Labour and Welfare, The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
    • Thawar Chand Gehlot, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Indian Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment

Download VIP Reception transcript (182 KB, opens in new file or tab). 

Speaker biographies

VIP Ministerial Reception

Verena Bentele, Federal Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Germany

Verena Bentele was born in the southern German city of Lindau on 28 February 1982. She has been blind since birth. At the federal level, she is the first Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities to be disabled herself. She was a professional athlete for 16 years and won 12 Paralympic gold medals in the biathlon (cross-country skiing and rifle shooting). Ms Bentele studied three subjects at the Ludwig Maximillian University in Munich: literature, linguistics and pedagogy. Before she was appointed Federal Commissioner, she worked in the field of human resource training and development.
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Jia Yong, Vice President, China Disabled Persons’ Federation

Mr Jia Yong, Vice President of 6th Executive Board of China Disabled Persons’ Federation (CDPF), Vice Chairperson of the All-China Sports Federation, graduated from Xi’an Sports College with BA degree in sports education. Mr Jia worked in the Mass Sports Department of General Administration of Sports of China. He also held the posts of Deputy Director General, Director General for Communication, Culture and Sports, CDPF; Chief of China Administration of Sports for Persons with Disabilities; member of the 4th Executive Board of CDPF; and Vice President of the 5th Executive Boards of CDPF.
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Penny Mordaunt, Minister of State for Disabled People

Penelope Mary “Penny” Mordaunt (born 4 March 1973) is a British Conservative Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Portsmouth North since winning the seat at the 2010 United Kingdom general election.

Mordaunt was born in Torquay, Devon and studied philosophy at the University of Reading. Before entering Parliament, she worked in business and communications, working in the private, public and charitable sectors, including as communications director for Kensington and Chelsea Council. She is currently the only female who is a Royal Naval Reservist in the House of Commons.

Mordaunt was appointed as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government in July 2014. In May 2015 Prime Minister David Cameron appointed her Minister of State for the Armed Forces at the MoD, the first woman to take this post. In July 2016, the new Prime Minister Theresa May appointed her to a newly created Minister of State position at the Department for Work and Pensions.
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Stephen Sui, Under Secretary for Labour and Welfare, The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

Stephen Sui joined the Hong Kong Government in 1978 and served in various bureaux and departments including the Land Registry, the former Urban Services Department, the Civil Service Bureau and the Department of Justice. He had been the Commissioner for Rehabilitation since February 2008, responsible for the overall co-ordination of the rehabilitation policies and initiatives for persons with disabilities. He has served as Under Secretary for Labour and Welfare since 15 August 2014.

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Thawar Chand Gehlot, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Indian Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment

Thawar Chand Gehlot is an Indian politician who serves in the Narendra Modi government as a Cabinet Minister in the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. He is a Rajya Sabha MP from Madhya Pradesh and is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). As General Secretary, Thawar Chand Gehlot is one of the prominent Dalit faces in the BJP (Dalit, meaning “divided” in South Asia, is the self-chosen political name of castes in India which are “untouchable”).

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Stephen Duckworth, Chair of the 2016 RI World Congress Programme Board, Shaw Trust

Stephen Duckworth was the Chair of the 2016 RI Global Congress Programme Board and works both in the private and not-for-profit sector. He is currently responsible for running a business that is reassessing over 1 million disabled people to determine their benefit entitlements and supporting disabled people into work through his involvement with the Shaw Trust. Previously he has run his own business, advised ministers on the introduction of antidiscrimination legislation and was a board member of the Olympic Delivery Authority for London 2012. Stephen qualified as a doctor but then having broken his neck completed a PhD titled: Disability and Employment: the imperative for a new approach.

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Roy O’Shaughnessy, Chief Executive Officer, Shaw Trust

Roy O’Shaughnessy, is responsible for the leadership and growth of Shaw Trust and managing the interface between the board of trustees and the executive management team and for developing external relationships so that the Trust can build an organisation that transforms a minimum of 50,000 lives each year.

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