National Leadership Conference of Persons with Disabilities
12 - 14 August 2010 Islamabad
A declaration calling for the ratification of United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) was endorsed at the National Leadership Conference for Persons with Disabilities. Held at the National Institute for Special Education (NISE) from 12-14 Aug 2009, the conference was organized by Special Talent Exchange Program (STEP) in partnership with Telenor Pakistan’s flagship corporate initiative “Khuddar Pakistan.” The conference witnessed an unprecedented attendance of 50 Disabled Persons Organizations, key leaders from the disability rights movement, state officials, disability advisors, volunteers as well as Telenor Pakistan management.
Managing Director Pakistan Bait ul Maal, Zamurd Khan, Ex Director General Special Education Khalid Naeem, Country Director Sightsavers International Mr. Niazullah Khan, President STEP Atif Sheikh and Syed Hasnat Masood, Director Corporate Communications & Responsibility, Telenor Pakistan, termed the declaration a historic document because of the consensus behind it. The International panelists included Director of Japenese Society of Rehabilitation of Disabled persons, Masako Kuhira, Senior Election Management Specialist IFES, Susan Palmer, Disability advisor, Handicapped International, Virginia Robson and motivational speaker, Dr. Todd Shea.
Commenting on Telenor Pakistan’s support for the conference leading up to the declaration, Hasnat said: “Telenor Khuddar Pakistan is an initiative that promotes awareness, integration, and inclusion of persons with disabilities in the corporate sector as well as in the overall society. We are blessed with partners who are committed to consolidate grass-roots initiatives such as this declaration, which would hopefully help the rights movement of persons with disabilities in Pakistan. Only through a dignified acceptance of the rights of persons with disabilities, can we progress.”
The document titled “Islamabad Declaration on Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2009” was devised after panel discussions that spanned three full days and enjoyed active participation from the attending audience. The declaration urged the government to consider all Persons with Disabilities as full and responsible citizens of the country and to ensure that they enjoy the same rights, privileges, and opportunities as other citizens.
The declaration called upon the government to take necessary measures to ensure access to justice for persons with disabilities and reflect their issues in judicial policy, governance reforms and administrative structures. The declaration devised that this constituency of citizens of Pakistan also needs representation by persons with disabilities in the political arena. It was petitioned that a mechanism be developed for implementation of the 1981 ordinance on disabled persons and the 2002 policy on Disability and National Action Plan 2008, in addition to the cabinet decision of 8th June 2009 and Directives of President of Pakistan issued on 1st July 2009.
Civil society organizations were prompted in the declaration to include programs for persons with disabilities in their development agendas. It was suggested that they should work with electronic and print media to highlight and communicate issues of disability and generate awareness.
The corporate sector was asked to ensure employment according to the stipulations of the 1981 Ordinance of Disabled persons. It also endorsed accessible inclusion in employment environments and provision of assistive technologies. Most importantly, the declaration pressed upon persons with disabilities to educate and apprise themselves of existing laws and regulations relation to persons with disabilities.
Such type of high caliber trainings will help the participants empower the world around them and increase their capacities. This will inculcate in them leadership qualities, and therefore they will be expected to lead their respective organizations.
Regional Leadership Conference of Persons with Disabilities in South Asia
July 31- August 2, 2010 Islamabad
The government of Pakistan has agreed and endorsed the establishment of “South Asian Disability Forum (SADF)” that will network various DPOs and NGOs in South Asia, representing all disabilities, to address a regional point of view in South Asia.
The decision was taken at the end of the Regional Leadership Conference for Persons with Disability jointly organized by Special Talent Exchange Program (STEP) in close collaboration with Ministry of Social Welfare and Special Education, Asia-Pacific Development Centre of Disability (APCD), Sightsavers, Telenor Pakistan and British Council Pakistan. More than 150 representatives with disabilities from the Pakistan and south Asian countries participated in the conference.
In collaboration with the governments, corporate sectors, international NGOs, sub-regional and regional agencies, UN agencies and other partners, the SADF is expected to play a role to highlight a regional focus on the inclusion of persons with disabilities as a development priority. The secretariat of SADF will be located in Islamabad.
Making another important announcement on this occasion, the Secretary for Ministry of Social Welfare and Special Education Muhammad Ather Tahir said that in the new National Labour Policy, quota for PWDs will be increased from 2 to 3 per cent.
The conference participants acknowledge that there is a growing concern of disability within the region and further actions should be taken by all stakeholders including both government and non-government sectors in South Asia ensuring that the persons with disability are entitled to enjoy the same rights, privileges and opportunities as other citizens.
The participants also noticed that there are attitudinal barriers with metaphors, jargons and phrases which reinforce exclusion of persons with disabilities in South Asia and agreed that such terminologies as special parks and special buildings be replaced with other appropriate words.
They noted that present judicial systems, governance and administrative structures in South Asia are usually not conducive to the needs of PWDs and recognized the need of measures to be taken to address these issues. The participants also urged all stakeholders to consider research and development opportunities to demonstrate good practices and raise awareness in general public.
They stressed the importance of education and training in an inclusive manner with support from governments, APCD, corporate sectors, international NGOs in close consultations with sub-regional and regional agencies, UN agencies and other partners bearing in mind a large number of persons with disabilities being excluded in communities across South Asian countries.
They also called for community- based inclusive development programs and emphasized that accessibility standards should implied in the construction and refurbishment of commercial, public buildings and other disability-sensitive communications by using accessible format in any type of materials. They also stressed that poverty reduction programs should mainstream disability issues from regional perspective.
Mr. Niaz Ullah Khan, Country Director Sightsavers Pakistan ensured the support to strengthen sub-regional initiatives for the mainstreaming of persons with disabilities. Amir Ibrahim, Chief Strategy Officer Telenor Pakistan pledged 50,000 hours of human resource to volunteer with organizations of disabled persons and support to conduct international conference on the subject in following year.
Executive Director Asian-Pacific Development Centre on Disability (APCD), Akiie Ninomiya, said that they have found Pakistan the best for establishing ‘South Asian Disability Forum’ because of the potential of people and geographic location of the country. He said that mobility is the major issue being faced by PWDs. He urged South Asian countries to focus on health, education and community involvement of PWDs to make them useful citizens.
Inaugural session of the conference was addressed by British High Commissioner H.E Adam Thomson, Executive Director Asian-Pacific Development Centre on Disability (APCD), Akiie Ninomiya, Country Director Sightsavers Pakistan Mr. Niaz Ullah Khan, Chief Strategy Officer Telenor Pakistan, Mr. Amir Ibrahim, Country Director ILO, Mr. Donglin Li, Senior Representative of JICA Mr. Toshiya Sato and President of STEP, Mr. Muhammad Atif Sheikh
International Leadership Conference of PWD's 2011
Special Talent Exchange program has organized this conference for disabled people from all over the world for an inclusive society and accessibility and mobility. It is been held in Serena hotel Islamabad from 3rd Oct 2011 to 5th Oct 2011 to promote the ratification of UNCRPD and to empower them with Leadership.
Welcome speech was delivered by Peter Hill, GM Serena. He mentioned that from the past few years Hotels has been taking initiatives for changes. And they still need a lot to do to support the disability.
Followed up by Mr. Atif Sheikh, President STEP. He pointed that there has been a lot of work still in progress to help disabled people. Like he mentioned that the stage has Wrack instead of stairs to Able the Disable people. He stressed upon the change process that has been in progress for the past few years. The need to rehabilitate the DP and empower them with Leadership qualities to give them a lead. And now they are changing the lives of others.
He mentioned the achievements of STEP in the past towards PWD’s. 14 DP from all over the world was selected and was given leadership trainings and attention has been diverted to how to utilize the persons with disabilities in corporate sector. He thanked the Partner for their contribution and participation in the Conference and making it successful. Which includes Government of Pakistan, Site Savers, Telenor Pakistan, British Council, Plan International, UNESCO, Concern World Wide, American Embassy, CBM, BAAP. Chef International, Light for the World, SAIBER, PUAN.
Mr. NiazUllah Khan from SAIBER Foundation, He said it’s not a Story of an Organization but it’s a Story of Leadership of Person with Disability. He thanked DG Special Education for signing the convention of PWD. Ms.IfatJamel from Plan International mentioned that we belief in Human Rights peace organization and it’s an honor to work with people who wants to make this society inclusive. Ms. RabbiyaIftikhar from CHEF International contributed that PWD has a lot of barriers and this conference helps in the Implementation of the UNCRPD convention.
Dr. Kozue Kay Nagata Director/ Representative UNESCO Pakistan showed her gratitude towards the STEP efforts and the participants. She mentioned that though UNCRPD convention is at International Level but still a lot of measures have to be taken including the inclusion of its implementation. She ended her welcome speech by saying that There is nothing about a disabled people, we take out the disabled people.
Mr. David Martin, Country Director British Council mentioned that we cannot build bridges until we are conclusive. Value of diversity comes with race, religion, age etc but it also includes disability. This conference will raise the value of PWD’s. He mentioned that people aren’t disabled, that what the environment makes them.
Mr. Karl Erik Broten, CFO, Telenor Pakistan added to the discussion that we need to change the mind sets within community nationwide. Currently 16 employees with disability are working with us and are really motivated and educated and they are one of the biggest resources to us.
Mr. Imam YarBaig, Country Director Pakistan Sightsavers congratulated for UNCRPD for the price of disabled people. And mentioned that working together is the real development of our country Pakistan inclusive of DP.
Chief Guest Mr. Syed MustafainKazmi Director General Special Education and Child Development gave the Ending words of Inauguration ceremony. He welcomed the foreign Delegates and participants from Korea and UK. He thanked the Organizers STEP (Special Talent Program) in collaboration with other organizations. And emphasized on the fact that we should make this conference result oriented. And thanked the foreign delegates for sharing their experience. He mentioned that Governments is working on the quotas for DP to ensure their participation and responsibility. And Added that ratification of the PWD convention will give prominence to the DP. Government of Pakistan has mainstreamed the disability into development of Pakistan. One of them is to allot them National Identity Cards to give them their own identity. We need to turn their challenges into opportunities.
He congratulated STEP to promote the cause of disabled people at national and international level. Followed up by Panel Discussion on Leadership in Disability Movement.Then Networking & Collaboration. A lot of interest has been shown in the panel discussion on Employment Opportunities and Challenges.
Then a Leadership Development session was held by Dr. AwaisSiraj, British Alumni Association and Mr. Khalid Naeem, Honorary Country Director, ICEVI
And a panel discussion on Community Based Inclusive Development, followed up by question and answer session very beautifully. And with this the first day of International Leadership Conference of Persons with Disabilities came to an end.