Sightsavers India in collaboration with National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCEPDP) organised a national consultation ahead of Global Disability Summit (GDS) scheduled for 16th and 17th February. The national consultation deliberated over the progress made against the last 2018 GDS commitment and brought in significant suggestions and findings for the inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in all development spheres and policies. Some of the key themes discussed today were developing capacities with organizations of persons with disabilities (PWDs) as prime stakeholder, inclusion in situations of crises like the pandemic, inclusive education, accessible healthcare for PWDs, and inclusive employment and livelihoods. The deliberation also focussed on the issues within the disability sector and came up with various suggestions for the systemic inclusion of women and girls with disabilities in all disability inclusive actions.
Global Disability Summit is the World’s most important gathering for empowering the voices of persons with disabilities and this process has enabled Nations and Civil Society Organisations to come together to renew their commitments and frame action plans to improve the lives of PWDs and ensure their human rights. It is a significant opportunity for countries to table their actions & experiences on the implementation of Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the eminent commitment towards ‘Leaving No One Behind’ in the 2030 agenda.
Dr Muniraju S.B., Deputy Adviser (SJE-VAC)-NITI Aayog, Mr Sandeep Rajak, Commissioner Disability, Madhya Pradesh, many eminent resource persons, members of disability network, PWDs from grassroots of many districts along with Sightsavers and NCEPDP representatives were present at the consultation.
Dr. Muniraju S.B. DY, Adviser (SJE-VAC)- NITI Aayog said, “Government in its measure towards promoting the inclusion of PWDs have taken many initiatives from legislating anti discriminatory laws, reservation for PWDs in government sector jobs, social security measures to various socio-economic and education programmes to uplift the lives of PWDs. We have also come up with educational course on etiquette for attending to the needs of children with disabilities. There is partnership between Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India & Ministry of Education for making schools inclusive for Divyang.”
Mr RN Mohanty, CEO Sightsavers India said, “It is really satisfying that today’s consultation is deliberating and reflecting upon the GDS commitments by involving representatives right from district level Organisation of People with Disabilities (OPD) leaders to national level stakeholders. In recent years, Government of India has taken some eminent measures to promote and protect the rights of PWDs through its policies in the form of Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act-2016, the new National Education Policy-2020 and Institutions like Skill Council for PWDs etc. The time has come we need to strengthen the implementation of these eminent policies in place and ensure that it reaches to the last and the remotest person with disabilities in a village.”
Sightsavers is working in 8 States and over 100 districts in India promoting the cause of disability and eye healthcare in active partnership with State Governments.
Arman Ali, Executive Director, NCPEDP said, “People with disabilities are the hardest hit by Covid-19 pandemic, it is critical to raise global awareness and focus on disability inclusion. ‘Leave No one Behind’ will be a reality only when education, health, employment (to name a few) is made inclusive of and for people with disabilities.”
Mr Sandeep Rajak, Commissioner Disabilities, Madhya Pradesh said, “In 2022, we intend to start a special drive for recruiting people with disabilities in government jobs for the reserved positions. We will also approach private sector for employing PWDs as per their skillsets.”
Leaders and members of different Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPD)shared their district and village level experience and challenges faced by them in their day-to-day lives. OPD members highlighted the need of community centred policy reforms and strengthen the service delivery institutions to attend the real-life issues faced by Persons and Children with Disabilities. Members have strongly recommended the need of disability inclusion actions and monitoring mechanisms at the local self-governance systems so that PWDs living in the remote and rural areas can be benefited at large.
The recommendations and findings from the consultation will be shared with the government through Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DePwD) under Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.
The main objectives of this consultation were: