Person with disabilitys: the way forward

The way forward
Persons with disabilities need a lot more attention than what they get
By Tahir Ali

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/dec2012-weekly/nos-09-12-2012/pol1.htm#6

International Day of Persons with Disabilities was observed on December 3, 2012. The day has been celebrated by the United Nations since 1992. The theme of this year is “Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all”.

Hasan Shah, 35, from Katlang Mardan, was born healthy but polio attack paralysed one of his legs in his childhood. Coming from a poor family, he couldn’t get treatment or education. He is still jobless.

Despite consistent efforts, he has failed to get any support from any poverty alleviation or disability rehabilitation programme, both public and private. A friend has bought him a calf. He is rearing it in the hope that it would grow into a cow and eventually earn him money after a few years.

There are an estimated one billion PWDs worldwide. Unfortunately, the number is increasing rapidly due to terrorist attacks, road accidents, diseases and natural disasters.

The 1998 census recorded a prevalence rate of 2.49 per cent for PWDs. It comes to around 4.5mn PWDs out of the estimated 180mn population of the country at present.

The World Health Organization, however, estimates that 10 percent of global population comprise PWDs. Ihsanullah Daudzai, General Secretary of the Special Persons Development Association (SPDA) said the number of PWDs is increasing by the day.

“No reliable survey has so far been made. So there is no authentic data on disability in the country. The government thinks PWDs form around 2.5 per cent of the country’s population. But we think disability prevalence is around 15 per cent in the country,” he says.

Of the total PWDs in Pakistan, the physically disabled comprise 40 percent, visually impaired 20 percent, hearing impaired 10 percent, mentally disabled 20 percent and around 10 percent are overlapping ones.

“The national data base and registration authority is issuing special computerised identity cards to the PWDs and can thus be instrumental in collecting an authentic data but that will take time,” Daudzai says.

The CRPD and its Optional Protocol was adopted by the United Nations on December 13, 2006, and was opened for signature on March 30, 2007.

As of late, there have been 154 signatories to the convention, 90 signatories to the Optional Protocol, 126 ratifications and accessions to the Convention and 76 ratifications and accessions of the Protocol.

Pakistan signed the convention on September 25, 2008 and ratified it on November 5, 2011. However, it has not yet signed or ratified the protocol like India and China, etc. Israel and the US, etc, have only signed the convention in 2007 but neither ratified it nor signed and ratified the protocol as yet.

Disabled Persons’ (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance 1981 calls on the government of Pakistan to work for prevention of disabilities, protection of rights of PWDs and provision of medical care, education, training, employment, and rehabilitation to them.

The ordinance is implemented through the ‘National Council for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons’ in collaboration with its provincial counterparts. But critics say the councils have remained dormant for years and failed to lead from the front.

The government has also announced that PWDs can receive Rs1000/month while those with severe disabilities can get Rs2000 to avail personal attendant services. They can have free wheelchair, hearing-aid or white cane etc. If a family has two or more than two PWDs, it will be declared a Special Respected Family. The Pakistan Baitulmal (PBM) has introduced a policy of providing Rs. 25000/- to such families.

“All public sector departments and private establishments are bound to reserve 2 per cent quota of their employees for the PWDs. But it is only partially implemented. The quota is also much less than needed. The SPDA demands that a minimum of 5 per cent job quota be reserved for the PWDs,” he adds.

“Three steps are must for the financial empowerment of the PWDs. One, their treatment and rehabilitation should be the first priority. Two, all the PWDs, especially the female ones, should be provided free and market oriented technical and professional education at their doorsteps. Three, the infrastructure of the special education centres should be used for the purpose after normal schooling hours. Four, the centres should have hostels in them to accommodate the PWDs from far flung areas,” he pleaded.

The need for zero tolerance against discrimination on the basis of disability, building the capacity of PWDs and making them an integral part of national programmes both in policy development and programme implementation cannot be exaggerated.

Economic empowerment of PWDs is essential for an inclusive society for them. Local and multinational companies and philanthropists should come forward for the purpose.

All MDGs affect the lives of PWDs. But there are no references to PWDs either in the MDGs themselves or in the accompanying body of guidelines, policies and programmes. Also, PWDs are out of the ongoing revisions of the MDGs. However, the MDGs can hardly be achieved if PWDs are not included in its policies, programmes, monitoring and evaluation. An authentic census of PWDs is also long overdue.

The Rio +20 Outcome Document, “The future we want” urges States to enhance the welfare of PWDs; promote inclusive housing and social services and a safe and healthy living environment for all, particularly, PWDs and to ensure equal access to education for PWDs.

There is a need for a barrier-free city planning in future. The cities and towns must conform to the Universal Design for Independent Living to make it suitable for all citizens, including elders, the youth and disabled.

Sport is a global tool for inclusion, tolerance and diversity. Though Paralympics are held every two years, PWDs need to be provided opportunities of sports and tourism at local level.

The political parties should also make their manifestoes more relevant and inclusive for PWDs.

Committed and qualified teachers are a prerequisite for proper education and training of special children. Therefore due attention should be paid to the training of teachers.

In 2007, China had employed 4.3mn PWDs. Pakistan should itself take the lead to train and offer gainful employment to such persons. IBM is a role model for employment to PWDs. It has employed many PWDs who are doing fine research and production work.

The worker says at least one percent seats of parliament and provincial assemblies should be allocated for PWDs.

………….

The original text of the article as it was sent to The News on November 30, before the international day on disability was observed.

Disability in Pakistan, the world and

The way forward

By Tahir Ali

International Day of Persons with Disabilities will be observed tomorrow (3rd December 2012). The day has been celebrated by the United Nations since 1992.

The theme of this year is “Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all”.

Hasan Shah, 35, from Katlang Mardan, was born healthy but polio attack in his childhood paralysed his one leg. Coming from a poor family, he couldn’t get treatment or education. He is still jobless. Despite his consistent efforts, he has failed to get any support from any poverty alleviation or disability rehabilitation programme, both public and private. A friend has bought him a calf. He is rearing it in the hope that it would grow into a cow and eventually earn him money after a few years.

There are an estimated one billion PWDs worldwide. Unfortunately the number is increasing rapidly for wars, terrorist attacks, road accidents, diseases and natural disasters.

There is still no reliable data on disability in Pakistan. However the 1998 census recorded a prevalence rate of 2.49 per cent for PWDs. It comes to around 4.5mn PWDs out of the estimated 180mn population of the country at present.

The World Health Organization however estimates that 10 per cent of global population comprise PWDs. Those working on disability say PWDs form 12-15 per cent of Pakistan’s population.

Ihsanullah Daudzai, the General Secretary of the Special Persons Development Association (SPDA) said the number of PWDs is increasing by the day.

“No reliable survey has so far been made. So there is no authentic data on disability in the country. The government thinks PWDs forms around 2.5 per cent of the country’s population. But we think disability prevalence is around 15 per cent in the country,” he says.

This comes to around 27mn PWDs. Another NGO worker, who wished anonymity, said over 12 percent of Pakistan’s population or 21mn persons have disability. Over 90 per cent of them are jobless and poverty stricken.

Of the total PWDs in Pakistan, the physically disabled comprise 40 per cent, visually impaired 20 percent, hearing impaired 10 per cent, mentally disabled 20 per cent and around 10 per cent are overlapping ones.

“The national data base and registration authority is issuing special computerised identity cards to the PWDs and can thus be instrumental in collecting an authentic data but that will take time,” Daudzai says.

The CRPD and its Optional Protocol was adopted by the United Nations on 13th December 2006, and was opened for signature on 30 March 2007.

As of late, there have been 154 signatories to the convention, 90 signatories to the Optional Protocol, 126 ratifications and accessions to the Convention and 76 ratifications and accessions of the Protocol.

Pakistan has signed the convention on 25 September 2008 and ratified it on November 5, 2011. However it has not yet signed or ratified the protocol like India and China etc. Israel and the US etc have only signed the convention in 2007 but neither ratified it nor signed and ratified the protocol as yet.

“Disabled Persons’ (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance 1981 calls on the government of Pakistan to work for prevention of disabilities, protection of rights of PWDs and provision of medical care, education, training, employment, and rehabilitation to them.

The ordinance is implemented through the ‘National Council for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons’ in collaboration with its provincial counterparts. But critics say the councils have remained dormant for years and failed to lead from the front.

Pakistan has since then taken a number of steps to facilitate PWDs. 50% concession in Air, Train and Road fare for PWDs has been announced. Tuition, hostel and other expenditures for the PWDs have also been waived off at universities’ level.

The government has also announced that PWDs can receive Rs1000/month while those with severe disabilities can get Rs2000 to avail personal attendant services. They can have free wheelchair, hearing-aid or white cane etc. If a family has two or more than two PWDs, it will be declared a Special Respected Family. The Pakistan Baitulmal (PBM) has introduced a policy of providing Rs. 25000/- to such families.

Besides the Director General of Special Education and Social Welfare, Pakistan Baitulmal, Benazir Income Support Programme and other public sector entities, the Layton Rehmatullah Benevolent Trust, Milestone Society for the Special Persons, Society For Disabled Women Pakistan,, Handicap International and many other foreign and local NGOs work for the for rehabilitation and empowerment of PWDs in the country.

The way forward

“All public sector departments and private establishments are bound to reserve 2 per cent quota of their employees for the PWDs. But it is only partially implemented. The quota is also much less than needed. The SPDA demands that a minimum of 5 per cent job quota be reserved for the PWDs,” he adds.

“Three steps are must for the financial empowerment of the PWDs. One, their treatment and rehabilitation should be the first priority. Two, all the PWDs, especially the female ones, should be provided free and market oriented technical and professional education at their doorsteps. Three, the infrastructure of the special education centres should be used for the purpose after normal schooling hours. Four, the centres should have hostels in them to accommodate the PWDs from far flung areas,” he pleaded.

The need for zero tolerance against discrimination on the basis of disability, building the capacity of PWDs and making them an integral part of national programmes both in policy development and programme implementation cannot be exaggerated.

The government should provide them access to education, health services, social and legal assistance, cultural activities, vocational and life-skills training.

Mainstreaming disability requires taking specific measures at all levels, strengthening the regional knowledge/policy frameworks and warrants addressing the needs of PWDs within the context of the Millennium Development Goals.

Economic empowerment of PWDs is essential for an inclusive society for them. Local and multinational companies and philanthropists should come forward for the purpose.

All MDGs affect the lives of PWDs. But there are however no references to PWDs either in the MDGs themselves or in the accompanying body of guidelines, policies and programmes. Also, PWDs are out of the ongoing revisions of the MDGs.

However, the MDGs can hardly be achieved if PWDs are not included in its policies, programmes, monitoring and evaluation.

An authentic census of PWDs is also long overdue. General Assembly resolution 64/131 also called on governments to build a knowledge data-base on PWDs, which could be used to facilitate disability-sensitive development policy planning, monitoring, evaluation and implementation.

PWDs should not be considered as “objects” of charity, treatment and social protection. They rather should be viewed as “subjects” with rights, who are worth of those rights and can shape their lives as per their own accord.

The Rio +20 Outcome Document, “The future we want” urges States to enhance the welfare of PWDs; promote inclusive housing and social services and a safe and healthy living environment for all, particularly, PWDs and to ensure equal access to education for PWDs.

There is a need for a barrier-free city planning in future. The cities and towns must conform to the Universal Design for Independent Living to make it suitable for all citizens, including elders, the youth and disabled.

Sport is a global tool for inclusion, tolerance and diversity. Though Paralympics are held every two years, PWDs need to be provided opportunities of sports and tourism at local level.

The political parties should also make their manifestoes more relevant and inclusive for PWDs.

Committed and qualified teachers are a prerequisite for proper education and training of special children. Therefore due attention should be paid to the training of teachers.

In 2007, China had employed 4.3mn PWDs. Pakistan should itself take the lead to train and offer gainful employment to such persons. IBM is a role model for employment to PWDs. It has employed many PWDs who are doing fine research and production work.

The worker said says at least one per cent seats of parliament and provincial assemblies should be allocated for PWDs.

Understanding disability and PWDs under risk

By Tahir Ali

What is disability?

There is no agreed upon definition of the term disability. Generally speaking, the PWDs can be classified into severe physically disabled (wheelchair bound), mild physically disabled (walking with crutches, walker. stick), visually impaired (blind/partially blind), speaking impaired (dumb), hearing impaired (deaf) and mentally impaired.

However, According to the National Policy on the issue of disability” 2002, “A person with disabilities means who, on account of injury, disease, or congenital deformity, is handicapped in undertaking any gainful profession or employment, and includes persons who are visually/hearing impaired, and/or physically and mentally disabled.”

Disability is not for impairment alone, but should be seen as the result of interaction between a person and his or her environment.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) states that they “include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”

PWDs under risk

Persons with disabilities (PWDs) face several prejudices. The biggest problem they face is the hostile social environment so that if a person limps he is called langra. And if he has lost an eye, he is summoned as kana.

PWDs are commonly the poorest of the poor in society, experiencing social exclusion and discrimination at all levels.

Also, the PWDs have restricted access to physical environment, to microfinance institutions, to information and communications technology resulting from legislation, policy or societal attitudes or discrimination in areas such as education, employment and transportation.

The wheelchair is one of the widely used assistive devices. Out of around 70mn in need of wheelchairs worldwide, only 5-15 per cent PWDs have access to it. Little access to travel and tourism or sports facilities is another problem.

All PWDs, and especially women and children, are at much higher risk of violence, neglect, poverty and exploitation. Factors such as stigma, discrimination, and ignorance about disability, indifference of the government, their poverty and the lack of social support for them and their supporters etc make them vulnerable to the above and other dangers.

Every minute over 30 women, the World Bank reports, are seriously injured or disabled during labour and these 15-50mn women mostly go unnoticed. The global literacy rate is as low as one per cent for women with disabilities, according to a UNDP study.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) recognizes that women and girls with disabilities are often at greater risk, both within and outside the home, of violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation. To address this concern, the CRPD has also taken a two track approach to promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women with disabilities.

The World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons also states that women face significantly more difficulties – in both public and private spheres – in attaining access to adequate housing, health, education, vocational training and employment. They also experience inequality in hiring, promotion rates and pay for equal work, access to training and retraining, credit and other productive resources, and rarely participate in economic decision-making.

The WHO estimates that over 50mn get disabled in road accidents worldwide each year.

The needs of PWDs are hardly considered while mapping buildings, roads, pathways, parks and educational institutions etc.

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About Tahir Ali Khan
I am an academic, freelance columnist, writer and a social worker.

One Response to Person with disabilitys: the way forward

  1. best hgh says:

    Impart you for this article. Thats all I can say. You most definitely jazz made this journal into something speciel. You clearly cognise what you are doing, youve strewn so some corners.see you.

    Like

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