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Consultative Dialogues on DisabilityConsultative Dialogues on Disability
JULY 15, 2016REGENT PLAZA HOTEL, KARACHI
LISTS OF ABBREVIATIONS
CBID Community Based Inclusive Development
DPO Disabled People’s Organization
DWA Disabled Welfare Association
DUS Dar ul Sukun
INGO International Non-Governmental Organization
KVTC Karachi Vocational Training Center
NADRA National Database and Registration Authority
NGO Non-Governmental Organization
PWD Persons with Disabilities
UNCRPD United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability
UNICEF United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund
NEED FOR A DISABILITY DIALOGUE
As part of the Disability as Diversity campaign, the first Disability Dialogue was organized by Dar ul Sukun on July 15, 2016. Disability Dialogues serve as a confab for exchange of information and ideas between stakeholders including representatives of governments, corporations, NGOs & INGOs, media, educational institutions and individual representatives on issues of common interest relating to disability. Disability is an emerging challenge for Pakistan. According to the last census conducted in Pakistan in 1998, 2.4% of the population was identified to be persons with disabilities. This in itself is too small a number for the government to be alarmed or take notice, discuss this issue at the state level or allocate funds and resources accordingly. And since no census has been conducted subsequently, the gaps in data have become critical, especially in lieu of population growth. Experiential data based on Dar ul Sukun’s engagement and providing service to PWDs suggests that disability has scaled up at every level in society. Thus there is a need for dialogue; a tool for good governance and mechanism to engage stakeholders on achieving better living conditions, better working conditions and social justice for persons with disability. It is imperative that adequate facilities are provided to persons with disabilities by the state and relevant opportunities provided by society. The gaps between the state and stakeholders proceedings for the promotion of rights of persons with disabilities need to be highlighted. It is also critical to evaluate the steps already being taken, identify what needs to be done further, take stock of available resources and initiate a plan to mobilize those resources to ensure mainstreaming of persons with disability.
AGENDA FOR THE FIRST DIALOGUE
Aim of the first Consultative Dialogue on Disability was to engage representatives from the state as well as other stakeholders on a discussion pertaining rights of PWDs. Areas of focus for this Dialogue included:
1. Identifying the role of the State for welfare of PWDs 2. Understanding the roles of civil society and stakeholders 3. Highlighting existing judicial laws for the safeguard and protection of PWDs 4. Exploring the role of Media in addressing disability and challenges for PWDs 5. Taking recommendations from participants for Disability Protocols that should exist in the purview of Pakistan
A set of questions was formulated to engage all participants in discussion. Specific questions posed to participants were as follow:
1. As individuals, active members of society and representative of various organizations, how do we perceive disability in our society? 2. Are we prepared to cope with this emerging challenge in our society? 3. Is there a need to form associations and networks to manage this challenge? 4. What is the role of Government and what are the proceedings of government to address challenges of disability, including aging? Do we have any laws to address and safeguard the rights of PWDs? 5. What is the role that civil society is playing and needs to play for PWDs?
At the conclusion of the Dialogue, participants were asked to share specific recommendations in the form of Disability Protocols that would form the basis of specific implementation actions.
PARTICIPANTS OF THE FIRST DIALOGUE - JULY 15, 2016
# Name Designation Organization
1 Ms Riaz Fatima Deputy Director Social Welfare Department – Government of Sindh
2 Ms Seema Nazli Assistant Director & Focal Person For Child Welfare
Social Welfare Department – Government of Sindh
3 Mr Fahim Ahmed Siddiqui District & Sessions Judge – Karachi East Sindh High Court
4 Mr Mazhar Abbas Senior Journalist & Analyst 5 Mr Ayaz Hussain Child & Hygiene Specialist UNICEF 6 Mr Robin Davies Director Sindh & Balochistan British Council 7 Mr Muhammad Memon Project Manager Sindh Handicap International 8 Ms Mahnaz Rahman Resident Director Aurat Foundation 9 Mr Shakeel Khan General Secretary Disabled Welfare Organization
10 Ms Sarah Amin Ali National Coordinator – Program Development Special Olympics Pakistan
11 Dr Munawar Hussain General Secretary Ida Reiu 12 Mr Saud Alam President Handicap News International
13 Mr Anwer Siddiqui Social Welfare Officer - Jamshed Town Social Welfare Department – Government of Sindh
14 Ms Robina Inam Principal & Founder Karachi Vocational Training Center
15 Mr Amir Shahab Liaison Officer Karachi Vocational Training Center
16 Ms Hira Wajahat Project Manager Stimulus Private Limited 17 Mr Morris Khurshid General Manager Dar ul Sukun 18 Mr Tariq Samuel Manager Monitoring & Evaluation Dar ul Sukun 19 Dr Sanish Salman Manager Events & Training Dar ul Sukun 20 Ms Ana Danial Manager Senior Citizen’s Home Dar ul Sukun
DIALOGUE BETWEEN STAKEHOLDERS
A general consensus shared by participants of the first dialogue was that whilst people dealing with challenges associated too disability are very concerned to resolve and manage the challenge, however, the general public and the Government of Pakistan does not associate significant importance to the mandate of disability. Yet when a problem occurs, then there is panic and concern. Mr. Saud Alam of Handicap News International highlighted the incident where blind protestors in Lahore were erroneously beaten up, by baton-wielded police in Lahore December 2014. Protestors were staging a rally to advocate their rights in view of World Disability Day, when they were man-handled by the police. In March 2015, blind protestors were again beaten outside the Punjab Assembly building when they tried to enter the ongoing assembly to demand their right to employment. Rights of disabled persons are ignored in our society time and again. There is discrimination, and no equality between physically-abled and disabled persons. Participants also shared that disability is an incorrect term to use. If use of this word can be avoided, there will be lesser challenges. Language is the bridge to communitation. When children are labeled as disabled, other people become more vary and are not willing to give them a chance because of the fear and apprehension that exists across society. Mr. Morris Khurshid ( Dar ul Sukun ) shared a particular case that was brought to his notice in Quetta. The family of a disabled child maintained keeping him in a bucket and hiding him in a well during the day so that no body finds out that their child is disabled. As an organization, Dar ul Sukun deals with such cases on a daily basis. Ms. Robina Inam of KVTC ( Karachi Vocational Training Center ) added that there are numerous such examples of people even in educated communities who still don’t accept PWDs. While this stigma is one that will continue for some time, society has definitely started to open up perhaps in quarters. People have become more aware of situations associated to PWDs; there is more opportunity for jobs and earning a livelihood for PWDs, and a recognition amongst masses that PWDs can actually do some jobs very well. Society needs to be educated that PWDs are an integral part. Thus, individuals attending the first dialogue need to accept PWDs first and then expect society to accept them.
Ms. Robina noted that there is a marked difference since 1983. At that time, one couldn’t imagine a mentally handicapped person being employed, married or living as part of society. Nevertheless, there are numerous instances where society is not able to include PWDs as part of everyday proceedings.
Mr. Morris shared his experience of signing a petition to ensure job quota for PWDs recently at the Sindh High Court, where he was the only person able to sign the petition from a group of 22 persons; since there was no facility in the structure of the premises to allow PWDs access into the High Court.
In response to this example, Mr. Fahim Ahmed, District & Sessions Judge – Karachi East highlighted that there is at least one wheel-chair access ramp available at the High Court from the back entrance of the main building. Thus, the challenge is not limited to the building accessibility. However, there are a number of other concerns due to which the petitioners had to face this issue. In light of recent political events in Pakistan and security concerns, whenever a case of political importance is in session at the High Court, entrance of person/s into the courts is restricted. One reason for this is the capacity of the High Court premises to manage the influx of persons. Another reason is the issue of security. There is a rule that other petitions such as the one indicated for PWDs is signed by 1 person only.
Mr. Fahim further commented on how society perceives an individual, in this case PWDs, depends entirely on the laws of that country. The root cause of disability being a social stigma in Pakistan is the Lunacy Act of 1912. The Act defines “Lunatic” as an idiot or person of unsound mind. In the context of this Act, a lunatic criminal can be called an accused but not called a criminal. The Lunacy Act of 1912 was replaced by the Pakistan Mental Health Ordinance in 2001. The new law has better definitions. However, the challenge remains that any definition in law impacts society and behavior of people including chaining of PWDs or placing them in mental institutions without realizing or trying to understand the type of disability they may have. The law has important implications for the lives of all citizens including PWDs. The relationship between society’s attitude and law is a two way affair. The laws governing treatment of PWDs (economically, socially, access to health and other facilities etc) give a clear indication of a country’s attitude toward PWDs.
With regards to petition at the High Court for jobs for PWDs, as per the Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance 1981, there is a 2% quota of jobs reserved for PWDs at provincial, federal and district level. If any organization does not comply with this, it needs to pay a fine but no one pays this fine. According to Mr. Fahim, this law is being upheld in the district courts – the only reason for the delay in appointment of selected candidates was that for a government job, a medical certificate needs to be issued from a government appointed panel, declaring the candidate fit for the job. In the case of PWDs, they would not be declared medically fit so a separate panel had to be arranged accordingly, keeping criteria in mind. This entire process took some time to complete. People employed in the district courts are not posted in front office but there are PWDs employed and this can be verified by visiting the said office.
Mr. Shakeel Khan from Disabled Welfare Association highlighted his experience of visiting the High Court to file a petition for accessibility of PWDs. He pointed out that parking is a severe challenge and due to security checks, PWDs approaching the court are made to disembark their vehicles at a significant distance away from the court. In addition, the ramps in place in the building are not fit for use and are often blocked by government vehicles parked in front of the ramps.
In response, Mr. Fahim pointed out that courts were no longer open access for all due to prevailing law and order situation. The security of advocates was more important than security of litigants and the challenge at High Court remains that there is very limited space to accommodate so many people. So preference is given to advocates and more politically inclined hearings. One solution that was recommended based on this discussion was that separate courts could be arranged for disabled person, where the building could be custom designed for their accessibility and their issues can be looked into and resolved on priority.
With regards employment for disabled persons, Ms. Riaz Fatima, Deputy Director at Social Welfare Department, Government of Sindh, highlighted three laws:
• United Nations Convention to the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to which Pakistan ratified in 2011 • Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance, 1981 • Sindh Differently Able Persons (Employment, Rehabilitation and Welfare) Act, 2014
The Social Welfare Department ensures that laws are followed with regards to injunctions on education, vocational training, rehabilitation, accessibility and recreation. The department has established vocational training centers for PWDs at the grass roots levels. In addition, Ms. Riaz’s office issues medical assessment certificates for PWDs that are a requirement for NADRA to issue their CNICs.
Ms. Riaz also stressed on the need for PWDs to take ownership and responsibility for services they demanded from the government departments. According to her, on several occasions, PWDs had complained that they were not provided adequate service from government departments with regards employment opportunities as per law. When the departments in question requested the plaintiffs to furnish requisite paperwork e.g. attested copies of educational certificates, there was no response from plaintiffs or submission of necessary proof. In this situation, the Social Welfare Department cannot be held responsible for failure of PWDs’ response, in isolation.
Disability is of course an alarming issue in Pakistan. One of the biggest challenges is the lack of data. As pointed out by Ms Sarah Amin from Special Olympics Pakistan resource allocation and support from the Government of Pakistan for PWDs is based on a very outdated census (1998) that indicates only 2.4% of the total population of Pakistan to be PWDs. Thus budgets are allocated for development challenges such as education and health care, but disability is yet not considered an important enough issue. However, more recent statistics from WHO (2014) indicate that almost 13.7% of Pakistan’s population is PWDs. This in itself is a distressing situation. Thus a census is one of the most critical actions required. Taking a solu-tion-based approach to disability, this is perhaps the first activity that needs to be initiated by the Govern-ment of Pakistan.
Mr. Fahim validated that budgeting in public finance is based on data and since data is incorrect and unauthentic, this will continue to be a problem. Further, various acts passed by the government with regards disability need to reflect flexibility and review. It is the responsibility of the Sindh Government to make rules for various laws so that there can be one comprehensive law rather than 5 or 6 different contradicting laws.
Ms. Mahnaz Rahman, Aurat Foundation, added that the right to life in Pakistan is significantly impacted by accessibility of PWDs whereas in other countries, accessibility enhances the quality of life for PWDs.
Mr. Mazhar Abbas, senior journalist and analyst added that two very practical suggestions that have come out of the discussion today are:
1. Setting up of a special court to support handicapped persons 2. Social Welfare Department needs to take a more active role and approach PWDs with the responsibility of facilitating rather than waiting for PWDs to come & seek assistance
He further suggested that provincial government needs to play a more active role and a ministry / advisor to the government for disabled persons is the need of the day.
Mr. Mazhar also emphasized the role of media as a vital one in raising awareness amongst masses on how to deal with PWDs or “special people” as they are refered. So far, media has not played an active role. It is important that private TV channels design a special weekly program for PWDs, as PTV used to do in the past. Media can also make regular documentaries to showcase success stories of people with physical, mental or psychological challenges. There are many people in Pakistan and around the world who achieved fame despite the challenges they faced. Drama serials and plays showing the will and spirit of a person with disabilities in overcoming his/her challenges are much needed. Bottom line is that media must not portray PWDs as mazloom (downtrodden / victimized) rather as normal human beings so that a positive impact is created across masses. In a country where those who are considered as fully-able and normal people do a lot of abnormal activities, the media with its huge viewership has much responsibility on its shoulder to play an active role.
Mr. Robin Davies of British Council noted that participants of the Dialogue were in agreement on major challenges faced by PWDs. He further suggested that it was critical that this forum is utilized to identify what needs to be done to resolve challenges and what steps need to be taken. The group needs to agree about accountability for actions and needs to set a time frame in which it wishes to achieve desired out puts.
Mr. Davies shared that the British Council shares an EDI mandate – Equality, Diversity, Inclusion – in all its hiring. 12000 people are employed by the British Council globally, which practices very strict rules about recruitment, access and adaptation of recruits in the working environment.
A similar approach needs to be inculcated in Pakistan with a provincial recognition for EDI. However, this may be a challenge for several reasons:
- There is no easy access to funding for projects involving PWDs - Pakistan is a closed society and does not like to address the challenge at hand. People try to hide PWDs in their homes as they feel them to be an embarrassment - The overall process of change in Pakistan is very slow. While the British Council tries hard, even they have a challenge in managing things at times
However, the British Council can offer its expertise on EDI and share it with organizations working on the mandate of disability. In this regard, British Council is working with KVTC to hire graduates from the insti-tute. Mr. Davies also urged to devise a working strategy for implementation on which the British Council would be more than happy to assist.
Representative from UNICEF, Dr. Ayaz Hussain added that this strategy is very important, and solutions can only be suggested once a clear scope of the problem is defined. He further stressed that it is imperative to work with children with disabilities so that they grow into responsible adults with appropriate training over time.
Mr Saud shared that Handicap News International (HNI) has been collecting data to assist PWDs since the last 1 year. They have realized that majority PWDs do not even know about their rights. For this reason, HNI is compiling a book to educate them about their rights.
Participants also indicated available resources for the group. One is the CBID Network Pakistan which is a platform for all NGOs, INGOs, DPOs to connect with each other. Mr. Shakeel encouraged all participants of the Dialogue to connect on the platform to leverage their strengths and support each other in achieving solutions to common problems.
As a conclusion to the discussion, Dr. Sanish (Dar ul Sukun) introduced the concept of Disability Protocols. DUS recognizes that disability is an evolving concept resulting from interaction between PWDs with other people. People’s attitude and environmental barriers hinder full participation of PWDs on an equal basis with others in society. Thus Disability Protocols as defined by DUS are “interaction with PWDs in such a manner that engages and includes them such that they become a part of mainstream society and do not remain apart”. This includes for example ensuring that all buildings constructed by law should have access for PWDs. If the law is violated, then it needs to be dealt with as such. All participants were asked to share their feedback and suggestions for Disability Protocols at the end of the Dialogue.
OUTCOMES OF FIRST DIALOGUE
At the end of the Dialogue, participants were in agreement on the following points:
1. There is a need for updated, authentic and accurate statistics to identify the significance of the problem of disability and critical interventions required to solve challenges 2. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that a nationwide census is conducted and data updated accurately. This is also critical for the government to take notice and allocate state funds and resources to resolve challenges of disability accordingly 3. The first step of support from the state will be developing laws and rules that protect disadvantaged groups 4. This will be followed by ensuring that PWDs have access to facilities e.g. ensuring all public buildings are accessible and means of public transport are available for PWDs 5. All stakeholders present at the First Dialogue need to identify their role and indicate how they can contribute and support the government in achieving what needs to be done 6. The need of the day is to take responsibility and support the state in achieving what is required, a solutions approach, ensuring sustainability of required actions rather than blaming the state for failure at delivering what is needed 7. The concept of Disability Protocol was introduced by DUS and participants shared their inputs and insights on the same
PARTICIPANTS FEEDBACK & INPUT ON DISABILITY PROTOCOLS
- We should give equal respect to people ~ Dr. Munawwar Hussain, Ida Rieu - Identify, accept & believe in ability of disabled persons. While giving them their rights, you might find the treasure - Disabled are differently-abled. A school link system between mainstream and special schools needs to be developed ~ Mr. Amir Shahab, KVTC - Teamwork for the welfare of PWDs with the coordination of Social Welfare Department is critical ~ Ms. Riaz Fatima, Social Welfare Department - Take the “Dis” out of “Dis”-ability ~ Ms. Robina Inam, KVTC - Persons with disability should have access to primary inclusive education and healthcare with corrective action to undo years of marginalization ~ Ms Sarah Amin Ali, Special Olympics Pakistan - Disability laws must be implemented ~ Anwar Siddiqui - It is humble request to Honorable Government to please implement UNCRPD ~ Shakeel Khan, DWA - In school’s curriculums, children should be taught to respect disabled persons and give them the preferential treatment they deserve ~ Ms. Mahnaz Rahman, Aurat Foundation - Disability etiquette implies no charity attitude towards persons with disabilities - Statistics should be reasonably correct about PWDs. Education should be inclusive and equitable for disabled / special children ~ Saud Alam, Handicap News International - Focus on the ability, not on the disability. Don’t under estimate the potential of a special person ~ Mr. Fahim Ahmed, District & Sessions Judge - Disabled persons should be considered equally-abled - Ramps must be constructed in every building for wheelchair access - Awareness sessions must be organized in communities to change peoples’ mindset about PWDs and create awareness amongst PWDs about their own welfare and taking ownership of their lives - 2% job quota for disabled persons must be implemented in all organizations
DAR UL SUKUN CONCLUSION & WAY FORWARD
Dar ul Sukun’s objective in organizing the first Disability Dialogue was to get deliberations and conversation going and to highlight critical challenges and gaps between State and Stakeholder’s approach to disability. Our desire was to conclude the Dialogue with decisive action steps regarding what needs to be done moving forward.
During the Dialogue, one thing that came to light from individual inputs was that in their own domain, everyone is aware of what needs to be done and how to be done. To really have an impact, each individual input needs to be collated and streamlined to create one single strategy.
In the course of the Dialogue, Mr. Robin Davies from British Council played an important role in guiding and facilitating the thought process to really have an impact. As shared in the course of this document, challenges highlighted during the Dialogue include: - Lack of governance and absence / misuse of laws - Lack of accessibility for PWDs - Government responsibility – an active role needs to be played by the State - Sustainability of stakeholder initiatives
On the way forward, it is highly recommended that 2 to 3 subsequent meetings be held to develop a 5 year road map on:
1. Define Vision: What is the end goal that the group wants to achieve 2. Current Status: What is being done at the moment 3. Needs Assessment: What needs to be done further 4. Stakeholder Identification: Who are the critical players that affect what needs to be done and their specific roles – policy makers; media for advocacy; business and corporations for funds and support; public relations and advertising support to reach out to target audiences; consultancy and advice from organizations like British Council who work on a disability mandate 5. Resource Identification & Mobilization: What resources are available and how they can be mobilized
This first meeting enabled us to understand dynamics of various stakeholders. Subsequent meetings need to have presence and input from healthcare / care-giving personnel, educationists, representatives from business and finance / economic experts. The overall aim is to initiate sustainable action to address the challenge of disability in Pakistan, starting with the province of Sindh.
ABOUT DAR UL SUKUN
Dar ul Sukun has been a center for protection, care and rehabilitation for persons with disabilities since 1969. One of the largest organizations serving disability and ensuring inclusive development across Pakistan, Dar ul Sukun envisions a world in which all persons with disabilities are favored with their full human rights to achieve full potential of their abilities.
With a history spanning 47 years, Dar ul Sukun has supported children with disabilities, socially displaced boys and girls, and senior citizens by establishing a network of homes that provide care for disadvantaged populous of society. Dar ul Sukun’s success lies in establishing critical multi-level partnerships with stakeholders from corporate, development sector, private philanthropists, government and non-governmental / not-for-profit organizations. These partnerships enable Dar ul Sukun to achieve its vision for providing health care, education, food, shelter, protection, rehabilitation and employment to populations already affected by or at risk of being affected by disability.
Dar ul Sukun Head OfficeCentre For The Conceptually & Physically Challenged Children
159-H, Block-3, P.E.C.H.S. Kashmir Road Karachi.Contact # 34550381, 34558797, 34554139
Email: [email protected]
Dar ul SukunCentre For The Senior Citizens
House # JM-2/243, Catholic Colony # 1, M.A Jinnah Road, Opp. Quaid-E-Azam Mazar, Karachi. Contact # 32293248-9
Email: [email protected]
Dar ul SukunCentre For The Children With Diverse Disabilities (Boys)
House # 3/577, Muslim Abad, Jamshed Town Karachi. Contact # 34190524
Dar ul SukunCentre for the Socially Displaced Children
House # 20, Street # 2, Shahbaz Town , Phase-3, Quetta. Contact # 2838745, 0301-3780503
Email: [email protected]
dar[email protected]/darulsukun/ www.darulsukun.com