Two reserved seats for women in the national parliament should go to representatives of women with disabilities and all committees of all registered political parties should have quota for persons with disabilities.
Seven organisations working for the rights of persons with disabilities made the above recommendations at a roundtable discussion titled ''Political Rights and Participation of Women with Disabilities" held at The Daily Star Centre in the capital's Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue yesterday.
The organisations, all headed by women, were Access Bangladesh Foundation, Women with Disabilities Development Foundation (WDDF), Bangladesh Visually Impaired Peoples Society (BVIPS), Disabled Child Foundation (DCF), Disabled Welfare Society (DWS), National Council of Disabled Women (NCDW) and Turning Point Foundation.
Abdul Matin Khasru, MP, convener of Parliamentary Caucus on Disability, as the chief guest said disable people must participate in politics from the grass-root by joining a political party and believing in their ideals.
"You have to come forward on your own, none will go and call you from your home," he said noting how competitive the political scenario is.
Tariq -ul-Islam, secretary to planning ministry and former secretary to social welfare ministry, urged persons with disabilities to apply to every government job and make use of the one percent quota for persons with disabilities in public service.
Questioning the inclusiveness of the democratic society of the country, Ayesha Khanom, president of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad (BMP), said affirmative action should not be thought of as pity.
Describing the situation of women with disabilities worldwide Christine Hunter, country representative of UN Women, observed how women with disabilities face double discrimination both as women and as persons with disability.
"UN women research and also other research shows that one strategy that makes a difference is an independent women's movement, which can be the strongest way to make rights real," she said.
Ashrafun Nahar Misti, executive director of WDDF, explained why it is more difficult for women with disabilities to come out of their home than their male counterparts.
"If a man with a physical disability wants to board a bus, he gets help from others. But we do not," she said.
Nargis Islam, a member of NCDW, said she went to attend a political rally with a speech and hearing impaired girl, with an invitation from a local ward-commissioner in Mirpur Bauniabadh.
Unfortunately, the girl got lost in the crowd and when Nargis sought help from another local political leader, he chastised her for bringing a speech and hearing impaired girl outside home.
"A deaf and mute person should stay at home he told me," said Nargis describing the insult she had received.
Though the girl was found later, the local ward commissioner stopped inviting persons with disabilities to political programmes to avoid any 'trouble', she said.
Nazma Ara Begum Popy, general secretary of BVIPS, and Nasima Akter, president of NCDW, read out the concept note which also recommended that election commission must ensure inclusion of persons with disabilities in political parties as a condition for registration and also make all election materials available for them.
Kazi Reazul Hoque, member of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Nasreen Jahan, executive director of DCF, and Mohua Pal, chairperson of Access Bangladesh Foundation, also spoke at the programme.