Event held to mark differently-abled persons’ day

MoU signed to have persons with disabilities bigger voice in policymaking

Our Correspondent December 04, 2021
A rally held to raise awareness on the International Day of Disabled Persons. PHOTO: ABID NAWAZ/EXPRESS


National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser hosted an event at the Parliament House in collaboration with the Special Talent Exchange Programme (STEP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) under the global theme of “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-covid-19 world”.

Every year, the United Nations observes the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPWD) on December 3 to mobilise support for the dignity, human rights and well-being of persons affected by disabilities.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than one billion people experience disability and the figure is predicted to rise, due in part to population ageing and an increase in the prevalence of non-communicable diseases.

Speaking at the occasion, the Speaker said that acknowledging the leadership of persons with disabilities and setting a legacy of engaging them as consultative partners, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed between STEP— an organisation focused on mainstreaming persons with disabilities— and the National Assembly.

The MOU has been inked to facilitate the recently established parliamentary committee on disability to have voices of persons with disabilities before policy recommendations and decisions, said Qaiser.

He added that the committee will review all existing laws related to persons with disabilities to address all shortcomings and align the laws with best international practices and conventions.

Read More: Women, disabled persons get special quotas for vaccine

The Speaker’s Special Initiative, titled ‘Making Parliament Accessible’, was also launched on the day with an aim to further facilitate persons with disabilities.

“Persons with disabilities have as much right as any other citizen to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health and education,” said Qaiser.

STEP Executive Director Muhammad Atif Sheikh thanked the National Assembly Speaker for his commitment and efforts for ease of accessibility and other requirements of persons with disabilities.

He said that effective implementation of the legislation is possible through strategic coordination of all ministries and departments and engaging organisations led by persons with disabilities.

Sheikh insisted that disability is not only the mandate of ministry of health or social welfare, but a cross cutting issue that needs to be addressed at all levels.

Addressing the participants, STEP Director Programmes Abia Akram said that persons with disabilities, especially women, need sharing equally in the distribution of power and influence and having equal opportunities for financial independence, education and realising their personal ambitions.

She said the UNFPA and STEP are working at every level of society to empower the most marginalised and vulnerable women and girls, to help them to make informed decisions and to empower girls to understand their rights, while also working with policy-makers on creating and implementing policies that respond and protect the needs and rights of girls and women.

Meanwhile, UNFPA Country Representative Dr Bakhtior Kadirov ensured to continue the support that the Agency has been extending for the last three years to address the issues of discrimination and violence against women with disabilities in Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2021.


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