The presentation of The Her Abilities Awards, a new award for ICT Innovation for Inclusion and a high-profile closing ceremony with more than 10,000 views by then. These were the highlights of day 3:


Due to the ongoing development of the Covid-19 pandemic in Austria, Rudolf Anschober, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection had to cancel his participation at the Zero Project Conference. At short notice the program was changed a bit and started with a brief session in German with Alexander Miklautz from the Austrian Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Christine Steger, Head of Monitoring Committee, Austria and Michael Pichler from Zero Project.


Also, the keynote of Robert Zadrazil, CEO of Bank Austria – a member of Unicredit Group in Austria – was moved forward. Bank Austria, whose studios at Kaiserwasser in Vienna the #ZeroCon21 was broadcasted, is quite exemplary in Austria when it comes to Inclusive Employment in Austrian corporate world. Zadrazil sees clear advantages that diverse organizations have and says: “I´m deeply convinced that diversity makes companies more resistant to any crisis , and that’s what we’ve been experiencing right now.“


Awards for strong women and inclusive IT innovations

The Her Abilities Awards, founded by Light for the World, are the first global awards to recognize the achievements of women with disabilities. Their presentation is a highlight of the closing event of the Zero Project Conference. But, because everything is different in times of social distancing and shutdowns, this year the award ceremony took place virtually, earlier than ususal, at 1 pm. And these are the laureates this year: Gamze Elibol, a pioneering theater director from Turkey; Bernice Oyeleke, educational leader, NGO founder and author promoting Deaf education in Nigeria; Robbie Francis Watene, a leading disability rights activist from Aotearoa, New Zealand. To learn more about the 2021 Her Abilities Award Winners, please click HERE.


For the very first time, the ICT Innovation for Inclusion Prize was presented. The Prize is an award for technological solutions that support the employment of people with disabilities in Chilean companies and a joint initiative of Pacto de Productividad Chile, IDB Lab, Fundación Descúbreme and the Zero Project. The chair was Catalina Saieh, President of Fundación Descúbreme. The award winners were Egalite Inclusion & Diversity from Brazil, EnableIndia – both also #ZeroCon21 Awardees – and Fundación ONCE from Spain, whose award-winning project to make products for adapting workplaces for people with disabilities with 3D support had been the content of a session in the morning.


More than 10,000 viewers were counted

In total, more than 4,000 people from all over the world had registered for #ZeroCon21 by Friday and more than 10,000 viewers were counted on all three days. Consequently, Martin Essl was able to sum up the event with great satisfaction in his closing speech: “The Covid-Virus brought the Zero Project Conference 2021 to a new level. The great outcome motivates us-a-lot for 2022 and the coming years.“


One of his plans is to develop the Zero Project Conference even more into a platform. Martin: „Our goal is to further develop the Zero Project as a Network of Networks, where ALL stakeholders are-involved.“ The “Ambassadors Circle“, which was organized for the first time and brought together 10 ambassadors in Vienna and the 21 award winners from their countries, was an important first step in this direction.


Speaking of ambassadors. The Zero Project also has ambassadors. New among these partners, who are strong allies of the Zero Project, and have supported and promoted this network is Nevgul Bilsel Safkan, Executive Director of Sabanci Foundation of Turkey.


Greetings and a look ahead to 2022

The President of the Austrian Parliament, Wolfgang Sobotka, after his invitation to the Parliament before the opening, did not miss the opportunity to address the closing ceremony as well. According to him the Zero Project Conference is „an indispensable key initiative for people with disabilities“. And for the upcoming Zero Project Conference theme “Accessibility,“ he promises to make the parliament, which will be renovated by 2022, a true role model.


For the 2022 conference, Victor Pineda, President of World Enabled and co-founder of the Cities4All Initiative, also joined in with a video message: “We are exited and proud that the Zero Project will take on the issue of accessible cities and accessibility next year.“


Finally, Carolina Rubia, Executive Director of Fundación Descúbreme, in her greeting message, raised hopes for an earlier meeting – later this year and perhaps even physically – by inviting everyone to come to Santiago de Chile from May 26 to 28. Rubia: “Make a note. we will be waiting for you.“