Last week, I was honored to take part in India’s National Disability Consultation as part of the Leonard Cheshire’s South Asia Regional team. The landmark conference held over 19th and 20th July at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi also celebrated Javed Abidi, widely regarded as the father of India’s disability rights movement, and the chief architect of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
Inaugural speeches heralded the start of the structured conference which included plenary sessions reviewing progress made in implementing the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 as well as, creation of viable economic opportunities for persons with disabilities. It was noted that the general lack in awareness of the new act, unproven commitment from state governments to legislate under Section 101 of the RPWD Act and difficulty in certifying newly included disabilities were some of the challenges bedeviling implementation of the act.
During the consultation, participants engaged experts and stakeholders in panel discussions delving into newly recognized disabilities under the act besides reflecting on the issue of accessibility.
The crux of the discussions involved breakout sessions focusing on;
- Inclusive education & child rights
- Building evidence & tracking process
- Independent living, limited guardianship and legal capacity
- Social security, health & rehabilitation
- Women with disabilities (WWD) and gender based violence
- Disability disaster preparedness
After two days of deliberations, there was a renewed pledge from stakeholders to intensify the push for implementation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. Importantly, there were key takeaways from the consultation that fed into the first Global Disability Summit co-hosted by the UK government DFID, the International Disability Alliance and the Government of Kenya held at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London on 24 July 2018.
Was there consensus reached at the National Disability Consultation? Yes, there was!
It is of essence that everyone rallies behind campaigns to create awareness about the Act across persons with disability, disabled persons organizations (DPOs), all levels of government, NGOs and all other stakeholders. This is the surest way to underscore that the responsibility to tackle current challenges afflicting persons with disability cuts across all spheres of society whilst the needs and rights of persons with disabilities must be addressed and secured for posterity.
1 John 3:17-18 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him.