International Day of Disabled Persons observed in Islamabad

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International Day of Disabled Persons 3rd December 2005

Disabled people face a multitude of barriers that limit their access to education, employment, housing, transportation, health care, rehabilitation and recreation. Disabled people are among the poorest of the poor. According to World Bank estimates, one in five of the world’s poorest people are disabled, and many of them live in low and middle- income groups. Particularly after the disaster of earth quack, while population of disabled persons has increased horribly in the country, these issues must be addressed at all levels.

International day on disability is being observed every year to create awareness and to advocate the society about the rights of Persons with Disabilities and priorities for their survival. Along with the rest of the world this year it was also observed in Islamabad collaborating all stakeholders with a theme “Let’s Not Leave Them Halfway”.

A seminar was conducted in Kehkeshan Auditorium of Holiday Inn Hotel, Islamabad at 0930 hours on 3rd December 2005 by STEP (Special Talent Exchange Program) in collaboration with Handicap International. About 100 Persons with Disabilities representing all three disabilities; Hearing, Visual, and Physical Impairments from different walks of life along with other stakeholders attended the seminar.

Mr. John W. Wall, country representative World Bank Pakistan as chief guest, delivered a comprehensive presentation on highlighting the current situation and emergency response from World Bank. During his speech he said he emphasized on the areas, which must be done on right away:

  • Systematic assessment of disable persons to ensure none left out
  • Public awareness of disability burden
  • Special efforts by disability self-help groups
  • Training of caregivers and temporary service providers in special needs of disabled.
  • Physical accommodation of needs of disabled in temporary shelters
  • Build back better must be disabled friendly

Welcoming the guests Mr. Muhammad Atif Sheikh, President of the host organization STEP said “Today all over the world International Day of disability is being observed with a commitment to bring a paradigm change in the society towards inclusive right based and accessible society not only for persons with disabilities but for all. In the light of the great work undertaken by Government, International Organizations, civil societies and individuals to rehabilitate earth quack victims at initial level we feel that our seminar’s motto “Let’s not Leave Them halfway” is a the most appropriate theme of this year’s International Day of Disabled Persons in Pakistan. One of the most crucial aspects of disability movement is our inability to speak on our own behalf to negotiate with government, policy makers and civil society.

But with a voice of our own we have begun to influence these groups to create a better society for all. Persons with disabilities are the best advocates of there needs and their capabilities, if they are included in rehabilitation and mainstreaming activities, undoubtedly results will be far better and sustainable.”

Mr. Arnud, Program Manage Handicap International highlighted the significance of observing International Day on Disability and briefed the response of HI towards the devastating Earth Quack in Pakistan. He informed that Handicap International is going to establish to Rehab Centers, one in Islamabad and the second in Mansehra. While as a partner with STEP Information and Recourse Center is going to be started by the end of this month.

Mr. Mubarik Ahmed, Director Special Education highlighted the salient features of National Policy of Disabled Persons 2002.

Ms. Nasreen Aziz, president Charagh-e-Manzil Bagh (AJK) an earth quack victim from Kashmir and ex trainee of CBSHOD Pakistan shared her experience and narrated the vulnerability of previously disabled persons during the emergency situation. She explained the problems of persons having spinal chord injuries and persons with disabilities still seeking for relief goods and shelters. At the same time expressed gratitude to the organizations and individuals who rescued them in digastrics condition.

Ms. Charlotte, consultant World Bank on disability for Asia Pacific Region also addressed the session and in her motivating speech she said “ Persons with Disabilities are not fighting for gaining sympathies or to receive assistive devices like wheel chair etc, rather they want to contribute their share and play their role in the development of community. They must be included in reconstruction process so that accessible environment can be created.”

During the seminar the Booklet on Emergency Response prepared by Disability Task Force of UN was launched and Mr. Nazar Hussain, Vice President STEP presented souvenirs made by women with disabilities to the Chief Guest and other Delegates including Dr. Yomo from JICA Pakistan, Ms. Susan from World Bank and Ms. Sofi from Handicap International.

Mr. Imran, Communication Secretary STEP and Ms. Kausar Perveen being the facilitators of the seminar extended gratitude to all supporters guests and working team.


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