UMEED, Reaching Out to people with special needs

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In Narowal District the total number of Disable People is 19,599 (according to 1998 census), which constitutes almost 2% of the total population. There are about 12,138 male and over 7,461 female disable persons.

The Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) does not explicitly define disability. Preamble of the Convention states: ‘Disability is an evolving concept, and disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinder full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others’. Disability results from interaction between a non-inclusive society and individuals with special rights. Anyone on wheelchair has difficulty even clearing a telephone bill, not because of the wheel chair but due to serious accessibility issues. There are environmental and social barrier that make an “administrative” setting challenging for PWDs in a country that already suffers from bad governance.

Pakistan ratified Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities in July 2011. However, in Pakistan, no particular ministry or federal department deals with this issue. Department of social welfare, and special education, is one such local level arrangement that deals with PWD issues.1 The Federal Bureau of Statistics does not provide recent data on PWDs and is mainly reprinting the one based on Pakistan Census Organization (PCO) 1998 that reports 2.49 per cent PWDs in overall population. This data also reveals that 55.7 per cent of disabled people are found in Punjab, followed by 28.4 per cent in Sindh, 11.1 per cent in NWFP, 4.5 per cent in Baluchistan, and 0.3 per cent in Islamabad. Considering conflict ridden and flood affected Pakistan, MOJAZ argues that this data is not representative of real numbers of PWDs.

The Government of Pakistan makes commitments towards providing special facilities to PWDs in educational institutions, banks, hospitals, shopping malls, police stations, airports, railway stations, bus stops, and at every public place and institution. However on the basis of MOJAZ’s work experience with PWDs , we state that PWDs continue to remain marginalized; tolerating lack of participation and inclusion and have severe problems in accessibility (be it to justice) and suffer discrimination.

Keeping in view such a tangible number of PWD, MOJAZ implemented Umeed project in Narowal that focused on PWDs with the financial support of PPAF where MOJAZ has been providing vocational training and assistive devices support to PWDs in Narowal. MOJAZ became more acquainted with the plight of PWDs during Pakistan floods in 2010.

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