Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (AWAM) and Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID Network on February 8-9, 2014, the capacity building training entitled “Advocacy Skills for Securing Disability Rights” held at Faisalabad. The government must introduce comprehensive legislation catering to the needs and problems of disability community with 15% population in Pakistan, and make sincere efforts to bring the most marginalized group of the society into mainstream, so that the suppression and exploitation of their due rights could be stopped. Naseem Anthony (Program Director-AWAM), Asim Zafar (CBID Secretariat Coordinator), Shazia George (Coordinator-AWAM), Nazia Sardar (Executive Director-AWAM), Saima Aslam (SAAYA) and Mohammad Jawwad Afzal (Deputy Director-NISE) were among the facilitators.
A disability rights activist, Asim Zafar (Secretariat Coordinator) said, “Person with disability is a key part of the society. It is usually considered that disability exists inside the person, however it is proven fact that disability exists in the society and attitudes of human beings or individuals. Pakistani people show sympathy towards persons with disabilities, but they neither have concern and feelings for them, and nor take actions practically to provide them independent life style.” “There exists diversity in the nature of all human beings, therefore the lifestyle of person with disability is very unique. Use of modern technology and positive attitudes towards disability community can create a barrier free and accessible environment,” he added.
A human rights activist, Naseem Anthony said, “The present situation of persons with disabilities requires the unity among persons with disabilities and organizations that are working for disability rights. They must struggle together following the rights based approach rather than charity & welfare approach.” “It is the obligation of government to make new serious and safely measures for securing the rights of person with disability, as committed by Pakistan while ratifying international convention on disability rights. National human rights institutions must take the liability to implement and monitor the international treaty CRPD protecting disability rights,” he added.
A disability rights advocate, Shazia George said, “There are ineffective laws and policies in our country, which do not cater to the needs and problems of disability community. The government should conduct population census, and must introduce the new comprehensive policies and laws as per accessibility standards, needs and proportion of persons with disabilities.” “The government must direct all architects of Pakistan to keep in mind the accessibility for persons with disabilities, while making building maps. The disability registration process should be friendly and integrated into one-window operation in all districts of Punjab Province at concerned hospitals with the better coordination of all government stakeholders including social welfare, labour and health departments,” she demanded.
The executive director of the AWAM, Nazia Sardar said, “Minimum standards to lead a healthy life are called human rights. To accept the person with disability as a human being in the perspective of human rights, terms such as; crippled, handicap, disabled or mentally retarded, blind, deaf and dumb must be avoided as these terms are clearly derogative, therefore positive terms such as; persons with disabilities, visually impaired, hearing impaired, vocally impaired and intellectually impaired must be used for promotion of positive attitude towards persons with disabilities.” “State is responsible to provide them education, health facilities, employment and recreation chances, so that they could spend their life with dignity,” she added.
The deputy director of the National Institute of Special Education (NISE), Mohammad Jawwad Afzal said, “Government is legally bound under the Convention on the rights of person with disability (CRPD) to take steps for the rehabilitation and empowerment of person with disability.” “The persons with disabilities face four kinds of barriers including; social attitudes, accessibility issues, communication challenges and legislative neglect, which hinder them from achieving success and progress in life. The government must create accessible environment in order to overcome their obstacles, so that they could achieve educational, technical and professional skills to live their respectable life,” he added.
The training was joined by 36 participants from 18 Organizations operating in eight respective districts of Punjab province. The participant organizations include; Community for Social Development, Beacon Foundation, Ittehad Foundation, Social Development Network organization, Emaan Foundation, Saaya Association, Bab-ul-Ilm, Welfare Educational Society, Insan Dost Association, Women organization for Empowerment, Social Development Organization, Society of Disabled People for Rights and Development, Active Youth Group, Ladies Development Organization, Caritas Pakistan, National Welfare Foundation.
Shazia George (Coordinator-AWAM Pakistan)
Organized by: Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (AWAM) and Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID) Network Punjab Chapter