Civil society and government officials on the same page for mainstreaming rights of people with disabilities

Lahore: Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (AWAM) organized a roundtable discussion meeting on the theme “Mainstreaming rights of Women with Disabilities” held at Prime Hotel in Lahore. This discussion was joined by 30 participants including people with disabilities, journalists, lawyers and representatives from government departments and civil society organizations. During the discussion, Mr. Naseem Anthony (Executive Secretary-AWAM) and Ms. Shazia George (Coordinator-AWAM) highlighted the challenges facing persons with disabilities through a presentation, and emphasized the need to build a united voice for addressing disability issues.

The participants of the roundtable discussion agreed on the following measures in order to include the disability issues in the mainstream, and demanded from the government that:

The term ‘Persons with Disabilities’ must be used instead of ‘Disabled Persons or Special Persons’ signifying the importance of the human being rather than the impairment; Government must consider women with Disabilities as full and responsible citizens of the country, and should create an atmosphere where persons with disabilities may enjoy the same rights, privileges and opportunities as other citizens; The political parties must formulate the vision and policy towards the empowerment of Persons with Disabilities in the next manifesto, reflecting a clear commitment to include disability issues in the mainstream; An independent institution and monitoring system must be set up to ensure the proper implementation of the CRPD in a true sense, for mitigation of the suffering of the PWDs and improvement in their situation.

The government must create better legislations and policies after taking all the stakeholders on board, and these instruments must be in conformity with CRPD and international disability standards; The government must devise a mechanism in order to put laws and policies into practice, and must take required measures for the strict enforcement of the reserved quota for people with disabilities in education and jobs; The government must take pertinent steps for ensuring easy access of people with disabilities to public transportation, building and places based on universally accepted standards, and for the removal of barriers that prevent a person with disability from participating in an activity or receiving services on an equal basis with others; The credibility and authenticity of the census must be ensured to know the exact population of persons with disabilities, and quota should be reserved for them in accordance with their share in the total population of Pakistan.

Government must ensure strict implementation on all privileges, policies and legislation concerning persons with disabilities, and must eliminate the tariffs, duties and taxes imposed on assistive devices and vehicles for them; The disability registration process should be integrated into one-window operation in all districts of Punjab Province at the concerned hospital with the better coordination of all government stakeholders including social welfare, labour and health departments, therefore one representative of labour department must be shifted to concerned hospital on permanent basis for ensuring disable friendly registration process, keeping in view the difficulty facing people with disabilities in mobility and accessibility.

The availability of registration form in Urdu along with English (or bi-lingual) must be ensured, and necessary information about the registration process of persons with disabilities must be attached with the registration form in written form for the convenience of the applicants; A lady doctor along with male district surgeon must be engaged to complete the initial assessment step for girls/women with disabilities keeping in view our cultural norms, values and limitations; All concerned offices must be accessible and established on ground floor in order to avoid sufferings faced by persons with disabilities during passing through stairs instead of ramp or elevator, whereas at least one toilet/ washroom in all concerned offices must be reserved, easily accessible and usable for persons with disabilities.

For more information, contact:
Naseem Anthony
Executive Secretary
Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (AWAM)
Street No.9, Block ‘D’, Barkatpura, G.P.O 665, Railway Road,
Faisalabad-38000 Pakistan
Tel: +92-41-2004270
Fax: +92-41-8721370