Call for concerted action to ensure constitutional rights
Social Welfare Secretary Quamrunnesa Khanam at a discussion yesterday called for a concerted action by the government and non-government organisations to empower persons with disabilities (PWDs) and protect their constitutional rights.
She said the government is likely to open hostels in the city for PWDs to serve them as well as to protect their human rights.
“Persons with disabilities having jobs in the city have to face accommodation problems. So, the government is arranging separate hostels for male and female PWDS which would soon be inaugurated,” she added.
The secretary said this at the discussion organised by Social Welfare Ministry, Social Service Department, Jatiya Protibandhi Unnayan Foundation (JPUF) and National Forum of Organisations Working with the Disabled (NFOWD) at Rabindra Sarobor at Dhanmondi on the occasion of International Day for the Persons with Disabilities.
The government is also taking different programmes, including pilot programmes to provide services to the PWDs in five districts in the country which would be expanded further if succeeds, constructing a complex for the rehabilitation of the PWDS, she observed.
This year's theme of the day was 'Making the MDGs inclusive: Empowerment of persons with disabilities and their communities around the world'.
Nasima Begum, joint secretary of Social Welfare Ministry, briefed on the decentralisation of the programmes and projects taken for PWDs.
“Only the capital-based programmes cannot bring the whole segment of people to the mainstream, it should include all types of PWDs who remain scattered across the country.”
Hasan M Mahamud, country director of Handicap International, emphasised the need for including PWDs in every step of development which will help foster their empowerment.
An entire rights-based programme establishing 'right to act' for PWDs can make them no burden to the society, he added.
Shaheen Anam, executive director of Manusher Jonno Foundation, called on the employers of private sector to employ the persons with disabilities and give recognition to their potential.
She reiterated a friendly atmosphere for PWDs and implementation of the existing laws preserving their rights.
ActionAid Country Director Farah Kabir, Social Service Department Director General Sitangshu Sen and NFOWD President Khandakar Zahurul Alam also spoke at the programme.
The programme was followed by a colourful cultural programme with the participation of over 500 physically and mentally challenged persons.
Meanwhile, individual rallies were organised in the city to mark the day.
National Alliance of Disabled People's Organisations (NADPO) in cooperation with Bangladesh Protibandhi Kalyan Samity (BPKS) organised a rally in front of the National Press Club.
The speakers urged the government to reform the existing laws and policies related to the disabled persons with an aim to implement the 'UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
They demanded empowerment of PWDs in all development programmes launched by the government, reservation of at least 15 seats for PWDs, amendment to Representation of People's Order-1972, provision to create posts for PWDs in all the committees of all political parties, mentioning specific programmes for them in election manifestos, allocation of at least one percent of the national budget for strengthening the disabled persons' organisations and inclusion of disability issue at all ministries by amending 'Rules of Business' in the light of UNCRPD.
Addressing the meeting, Md Jahangir Alam, secretary general of NADPO, said according to a study of World Health Organisation (WHO), 10 percent people of the world are suffering from various forms of disabilities. In this ratio, more than 1.5 crore people of Bangladesh are disabled.
He stressed the need of coordinated efforts with long-term strategic plan for the development of the persons with disabilities.
NADPO President Abdus Sattar, Vice-President Shawkat Hossain Bhuiyan and Executive Member Ifthekhar Hossain Sohel also spoke.
Action on Disability and Development (ADD), Jatiya Trinamul Protibandhi Sangstha, National Forum for Disabled Women took out a procession from Russell Square.
State Minister to Woman and Children Affairs Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury inaugurated the procession.
The organisations placed a set of recommendations for the empowerment of PWDs at grassroots level.
The recommendations include inclusive education, reduction of child mortality, providing health service to PWDs, necessary measures for PWDs who are affected for the climate change impacts and expanding development programme for PWDs to upazila levels.