Center for Inclusive Development
In Pakistan, estimates of the number of persons living with disabilities vary between 3.3m and 27m, depending on whether they are based on government statistics (the last census which measured the prevalence rates was taken in 1998) or whether they come from other agencies. Pakistan did, in fact, make early attempts at including persons with disabilities in the 1980s with the introduction of education and employment policies, setting up special schools for persons with disabilities, for example, and mandating businesses to employ persons with disabilities through a quota-based system and levies. But although these were celebrated achievements in the early years, they proved to be ineffective in including persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities still have difficulty exercising their civil and political rights, attending quality schools and finding gainful employment, among other activities.
Globally, and in Pakistan, policy approaches to disability have largely been focused on rehabilitation, welfare handouts and related charity. This has been changing since the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD), which became operational in 2008. The UNCRPD offers a blueprint for a rights-based approach to mainstreaming persons with disabilities. Pakistan ratified the treaty in 2011, but progress around building an inclusive society has been slow.
STEP has launched a resource centre titled “Center for Inclusive Development” in 2019. The Center of Inclusive Development Pakistan will prepare transformative disability policy researchers and will serve as a collaborative “think tank” on disability policy through a wide range of activities including independent researches, round table dialogues and research led academic courses on disability inclusive development in collaboration with public and private universities. Information will be shared in the form of reports, thematic publications and a periodic journal. At the same time, it will be a source of information for the persons with disabilities and their families about the services they are entitled and about the available facilities to live a life in the mainstream of the society.
The institute will be a research depository and will be managed by two full time researchers under the supervision of the advisory team and a principal researcher or chairperson having sound knowledge of rights-based approaches of disability and development. The team will be constituted of persons with disabilities preferably. Research initiatives will be taken in collaboration with academic institutions such as universities at national as well international level. Resource persons will be engaged as per their diversified experiences and knowledge for teaching of courses and training programs.
The institute will be functioning autonomously as not for profit entity in collaboration with the National Library of Pakistan.