BY Abid Lashari
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) has been commemorated since 1992 to promote awareness and mobilize support for critical issues relating to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in society and development. The Day works to promote action to raise awareness about disability issues and draw attention to the benefits of an inclusive and accessible society for all.
Governments, UN agencies, civil society organizations, academic institutions and the private sector are encouraged to partner with organizations of persons with disabilities to arrange events and activities to commemorate the Day. Theme for 2016 is, “Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want”.
There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 07 are inclusive out of 17 SDGs. Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere, Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture, Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, Goal 9.
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation, Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development, Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development. The world has to work 15 years till 2030 to bring inclusion of persons with disabilities at all levels. Inclusion does matter: access and empowerment for people of all abilities. On that day new commitments are made that persons with disabilities must be able to fulfill their role in society and participate on an equal basis with others.
It is important to focus on the ability and not on the disability of an individual. Often, the societal image of persons with disabilities is impacted by attitudes based on stigma and discrimination, as well as archaic ideas about disability and persons with disabilities that are often the greatest barrier to their full and equal participation in society and development on an equal basis with others. It is important to note that disability is part of the human condition, and that all of us either are or will become disabled to one degree or another during the course of our lives.
By promoting empowerment, real opportunities for people are created. This enhances their own capacities and supports them in setting their own priorities. Empowerment involves investing in people – in jobs, Skill development, health, nutrition, education, and social protection. When people are empowered they are better prepared to take advantage of opportunities, they become agents of change and can more readily embrace their civic responsibilities. The estimated one billion people living with disabilities worldwide face many barriers to inclusion in many key aspects of society.
As a result, people with disabilities do not enjoy access to society on an equal basis with others, which includes areas of transportation, employment, and education as well as social and political participation. The right to participate in public life is essential to create stable democracies, active citizenship and reduce inequalities in society. There is dire need to make cities inclusive and accessible for all, to improve disability data and statistics & to include persons with invisible disabilities in society and development.
Pakistan has no accurate data on disability to plan for the empowerment, rehabilitation & betterment. The lack of data and information on disability and the situation of persons with disabilities at the national level contribute to the invisibility of persons with disabilities in official statistics. This presents a major obstacle to achieving development planning and implementation that is inclusive of persons with disabilities. In particular, to be internationally comparable, data should be collected in line with international standards. Data collected can be used the implementation and monitoring of internationally agreed development goals for persons with disabilities, such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs).
People with disabilities are equal partner of society but still society has not accepted these people. Persons with disabilities are deprived of their basic rights, right to education, right to live, right to communicate, right to earn livelihood in dignified manner especially in rural areas. Persons with disabilities have lack of access to skill development & education so that they are wandering here and there. Lack of any skill leads to poverty, there is dire need to develop their skills to make the m useful citizens of society.
All over the world, mental health is one of the biggest issues to be handled in our society. It seems that the tendency of Intellectual (mental) disability is increasing because the knowledge and awareness is not available in our communities. In rural setups and small town these people with intellectual disabilities are chained and locked in homes or wandering at the streets with dirty and tore clothes or naked. In some cases these people are sent to institutions/mental hospitals for life time. Children with intellectual (mental) disabilities are not understood at early stage in this way early intervention for them is impossible.
These children often misunderstood and become victims of their parents and family. When these kids admitted to school, teachers don’t understand their disabilities in this way their condition become worse and worst. When a person with intellectual (mental) disability identified in any family that family traumatized and couldn’t understand how to handle the situation. In this way that family pressurized and at first hand they try to cure such disability and major part of their income goes to doctors and hospitals.
When these families understand that this disability is not curable then they spend most of the time to handle that family member this also affects their income generation activity. These families not only affected economically but they restrict their own social activities that what other people will say about them. They mostly hide such family members because of attitude of the community. People with intellectual (mental) disabilities treated also as cursed person. After that an struggle started to get rid off “Jin” or “Ghaibat” even from “Kala Jadu” (Black magic). As the end result these people with disabilities left vulnerable at shrines and “Dargahs”.
There is no system to realize the sexual needs of these people because talking on sex issues in Pakistan is considered a “Taboo”. If there is a female member with intellectual disability the whole family looks drowned in deep waters. The International Day will be used to highlight measures to strengthen national capacities to improve and mainstream disability data collection, based on existing good practices. The Day will also be used to highlight challenges and map out strategies to involve persons with disabilities and their organizations in disability data and statistics collection and dissemination.
Hope never dies fruitful commitments may bring change in life style of persons with Disabilities. There is dire need accept disability. We should not pity feel sympathy but feel empathy to understand disability with core of heart to encourage persons with disabilities to make them equal partners of society.