International Fortnight on Elimination of Violence Against Women
International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2020
December 3, 2020
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) is observed worldwide every year on December 3, 2020. The observance of this day aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society, and to increase awareness on the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life, globally.
According to UNESCO guidelines, persons with disabilities in the world are among the hardest hit by COVID-19. Of them, 46% are older people aged 60 years and above?, one in every ten is a child with disability, and one in five a woman, and of these 80% live in developing countries.
Given the above context, on December 2, 2020, the Centre for Advocacy and Research, Community Management Committee (CMC) members, with partners Swabhiman, SAKHA, Centre for Youth and Social Development, Blind Relief Association, and Prayas in Bhubaneswar and Jaipur hosted a webinar “Towards a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.”
The webinar was the third in a series of deliberations on the issue, with two others conducted on May 28 and September 19, 2020. In the two previous webinars, it became clear that PwDs were among the most adversely groups impacted by the pandemic. Three critical areas identified for action were securing access to: a) basic sanitation services, b) social protection schemes for the disabled; c) financial assistance or alternative livelihood. The third webinar was conducted with the objective of using the day to deliberate jointly with disabled people’s representatives, CSO partners and decision-makers/duty-bearers to come up with recommendations and plan the next steps for purposeful inclusion of persons with disabilities in sanitation, social protection and livelihood programmes of the government in both cities.
The event was a part of CFAR’s ongoing project, Water for Women: Mobilizing, Facilitating and Replicating Socially Inclusive WASH Initiatives in India’s Urban Slums, supported by Water for Women Fund, Government of Australia the Australian Government?
Response from decision-makers/duty-bearers
Strengthen awareness on schemes
- “We will initiate programmes to build more awareness on various schemes as it will enhance motivation, improve ability to be independent, develop entrepreneurial skills, capacity to be self-reliant and work closely with the service providers.” Baijayanti Mohanty, Block Programme Manager of Odisha Livelihood Mission, Kendrapada District, Odisha.
Convergence of schemes
- “We will try to see how welfare schemes for PwDs can also focus on livelihood development, and ensure that PwD are able to achieve social, educational and economic empowerment.” Rabindra Satpathy, District Disability Rehabilitation Officer, Sambalpur.
Alternative livelihood development
- “We will provide PwDs with soft loans so that they can work from home. Recently, NULM has issued a directive that five disabled persons can form an SHG and we will provide them with free skills and marketing support to sell their products. We need support of NGOs to make this happen.” Navin Bhardwaj, Deputy Commissioner, NULM, Greater Jaipur.
Make operational Right of Persons with Disabilities (RoPwD) Act, 2016
- “We will take steps to make operational the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RoPwD) Act to enable disabled persons to live with dignity, provide equal opportunities in education and jobs and, most of all, take steps to remove barriers to empower them to contribute as citizens of this country. And for this we all will work together for 365 days, and not one day of the year. My three recommendations are: 1) make operational the implementation of Right of Persons with Disabilities, 2) promote inclusive education using EPUB Reader HTML5 technology and audio tools for students, and 3) shift from welfare to empowerment approach for inclusion of PwD to enable them to contribute meaningfully as citizens.” Akash Deep Arora, Deputy Director, Rajasthan Administrative Service.
Develop a database of persons with disabilities
- “We need to develop a database and enumerate individual scheme-wise listing for securing entitlements. Also establish processes for inter-department convergence to enable delivery of social security schemes. With the support of civil society, facilitate early detection of disability though health service-providers, frontline workers and registration is essential to avail benefits.” Pooja Sharma, Senior Consultant and Disability Expert, Department of Social Justice and Empowerment, Jaipur.
Recommendations from Partner CSOs
- “We recommend a task force be set up with the support of the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment dedicated to services for the disabled, with correct data, so that access to schemes can be fast-tracked. We also request the department to set up a free helpline for easy and accessible dissemination of information and procedures and plan rehabilitation of children working in hazardous small-scale units on priority.” Indu Rani Singh, Director, Special Projects, Prayas, Jaipur.
- “State is mandated to provide access to water, sanitation and personal hygiene on equal basis to persons with disabilities as a matter of right. We will collectively advocate with the concerned authorities to extend these facilities as a matter of right to PwDs.” Bhushan Punani, Executive Secretary, Blind People’s Association.
- “The law on Rights of Persons with Disabilities should also be amended with a special mention on ensuring access to adequate water and sanitation services, especially in the context of the pandemic.” Sannyashai Kumar Behera (OAS-1) Social Security and Empowerment of Persons with Disability (SSEPD) Department, Government of Odisha.
- “Budgeting is the most essential component, and when we talk about budgeting for the disabled, data segregation is the most essential element. The government must enumerate persons with disabilities to know the actual size of the population and allocate resources accordingly.” Basant Nayak, Programme Manager, Centre for Youth and Social Development, Bhubaneswar.
Concerns Presented by Community Representatives
- “After a lot of struggle, when persons with disabilities were able to earn their livelihoods by doing petty business, the pandemic has once again pulled us down.” Pramodini Maharana, 42, Bastibikash, Bhubaneswar
- “I struggle all day to make a living, and the pandemic has made it harder for people like me. We always felt ignored and excluded but now I know how water and sanitation can be made disabled-friendly.” Kasturi Patra, 35 years, Saliasahi Basti Bikash Parishad, Bhubaneswar.
- “If the basic design of the toilet is not made in consultation with us, we will not be able to use it. If the sewer line or water pipeline does not come to our doorstep, we cannot collect water. We appeal to the government to see our plight and plan our sanitation with us.” Asha, 25, Rajeev Nagar, Jaipur.
- “The pandemic has left many disabled persons without jobs and disrupted their small businesses. We can no longer take care of their families and live a life of dignity. There should be some special schemes to reduce our vulnerability.” Shiv Prasad, 30 years, Rajeev Nagar, Jaipur.
- “I visited the e-Mitra centre but they asked for money which I cannot pay. I get no support and it is not possible for me to visit government offices again and again. If access to schemes can be made easy it will help us to get food and medicines.” Charanjeelal, 60, Bapu Basti, Jaipur.
- “I used to take my adolescent son to the community toilet on my shoulders. I was given a wheelchair which has made it possible for him to go to the toilet alone. If such support can be extended to remove our day-to-day barriers, it will help many persons like me,” Manju Devi, 35, Jaipur.
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