Aurat Publication & Information Service Foundation
Plight of women and girls with disabilities highlighted on International Day of PWDs, Islamabad


Plight of women and girls with disabilities highlighted on International Day of PWDs

Aurat Foundation, in collaboration with STEP, US Embassy, Sight Savers, Serena Hotels, Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights, and Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), arranged an event titled ‘Policy Dialogue: Towards a Disability-Inclusive Post-2015 Development Framework’ on 3 December 2015 in Serena Hotel, Islamabad, to mark the International Day of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs).

The persons with disability (PWD) and their families would be able to get complete information about the facilities available for PWDs through a new Android mobile application -- DIVE -- launched on Thursday to commemorate the International Day of Persons with  Disability (PWDs). Through this first-ever Android mobile application for PWDs, information regarding the facilities available in both public and private sector such as lists of education and rehabilitation centres, employment opportunities, laws, guidelines for CNIC registration, will become accessible for every disabled citizen of the country.

The application, launched by Special Talent Exchange Programme (STEP) with the support of International Foundation of Electoral System (IFES), was unveiled in a policy dialogue on ‘Towards a disability -- inclusive post 2015 development framework Pakistan perspective’ organised by the Ministry of Human Rights, Special Talent Exchange Programme (STEP), National Commission on the Status of Women, Sight Savers, United States Embassy, National Forum for Women with Disability and Aurat Foundation. Special Assistant to Prime Minister for Human Rights Ashtar Ausaf was the chief guest on the occasion.

The policy dialogue brought together leaders of PWDs, development experts and decision-makers to initiate a process of inclusion of PWDs who are still the uncounted and unheard citizens of the country. Through this dialogue, policy recommendations are formulated for effective and inclusive implementation of international commitments of Pakistan such as UNCRPD and the perspective of the country on inclusive Sustainable Development Goals were shared with wider network of stakeholders.

Ms. Munazza Gilani, Country Director Sightsavers, Mr. Neal Murata,  Cultural Attaché  US Embassy, Ms. Rabeea Hadi, Director Advocacy & EVAW, Barister Zaffar Ullah Khan Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Human Rights, Mr. Muhammad Hassan Mangi, DG Human Rights, Mr. Atif Sheikh, Mr. Abdullah Abdur Rehman Khan, Manager CSR Telenor Pakistan, Syed Sardar Pirzada, Senior Journalist, Ms. Ayesha Khan, Deputy Manager, Corporate Strategy Serena Hotel,  Mr. Ashtar Ausaf Ali, Special Assistant to Prime Minister for Law and Justice & Mr. Ole Holtved, Country Director IFES participated in the event.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister for Law, Justice and Human Rights Mr. Ashtar Ausaf stressed on collaborative effort to empower PWDs. “If a person is disabled. It is actually the disability of society to understand and accommodate that person,” he said. He said the issue is not only that of accessibility of infrastructure but also of the accessibility of our minds. He pointed out that the issue of PWDs should not be parked in the human rights ministry but it must be made part of all policy initiatives of the government. An android application developed for the support of PWDs was also launched on the occasion.

Ministry of Human Rights’ Director General Mr. Muhammad Hassan Mangi said that the International Day for Persons with Disability reminds the government of their constitutional and international commitments. He said that inclusiveness of PWDs ensure in SDGs provide and extraordinary opportunity to implement the national and international commitments. 

Mr. Ole Holtved said that STEP and ISEF are developing information resources for PWDs, opinion-makers and public at large such as through Android applications, material made available of the Pakvoter website and social media platforms and in direct interaction with decision makers and disabled persons and organizations. While talking about inclusive political participation, senior journalist Syed Sardar Peerzada said persons with disability remain unaware of the political situation mainly because Pakistani media is also not disability friendly.

Ms Rabeea Hadi, Director Advocacy & EVAW, Aurat Foundation, talked about violence against women with disability. She said that the worst they suffer is social isolation and discriminatory social mind-set. “These girls are not taken out of the house and families try to hide them from society as it can create trouble in marrying off other siblings”, she further said.

She said that in most of the cases, the ovaries of girls with disabilities are removed by the family. “This leads to blindness and other complicated health issues,” she said. She said that during census and surveys, people tend to hide their disabled children. They are called with names like ‘langri’, ‘jhali’, ‘Allah log’, ‘pagli’, ‘anni’ etc. “And ‘baichari’ is the most popular word used in front of them.” She lamented the fact that there is no formal mechanism on the government part to record and publish the data of violence acts faced by women in general and PWDs in particular.

National Forum for Women with Disabilities Chief Executive Officer Abia Akram stressed for the need of making sustainable plans for the empowerment of persons with disability especially women.