First lady urges lawmakers to expedite work on pending disability bills

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ISLAMABAD: First Lady Samina Arif Alvi on Monday called upon the parliamentarians to pace up work on legislation for persons having disabilities to ensure their mainstreaming in all spheres of life.

Addressing at the 2nd annual Khadija Tul Kubra Awards here, the First Lady said it was important for the society to provide a level-playing field for disabled persons to make them productive citizens.

The award ceremony was organized by Women Parliamentary Caucus, STEP (Special Talent Exchange Programme), UN Women and the U.S. embassy to honour 16 disabled women who proved role models in the domain of disability rights and for 20 male and female champions of empowerment for disabled women.

Begum Alvi said the government, private sector and civil society in the country had joint responsibility for facilitating access of disabled people to opportunities of education, healthcare and employment.

She called the need for accommodating disabled children in general schools instead of marginalizing them in special needs institutions.

She mentioned her social work in a personal capacity with the Karachi chapter of Network of Organizations Working for People with Disabilities Pakistan (NOWPDP) and expressed her desire to expand the initiative to other parts of the country as well.

MNA and Secretary Women Parliamentary Caucus Munazza Hassan said despite various challenges, a number of women with disabilities in the country were proving themselves as inspiration for others. She said the event was an effort to highlight and appreciate their contribution to the development of Pakistan.

Charge d’Affaires of U.S. embassy John Hoover said the United States was committed to removing barriers for disabled persons and creating a world offering them dignity and inclusion.

He said to pursue this goal, the U.S. encouraged and assisted civil society partners across the world including Pakistan to advocate equal and comprehensive rights.

Country Director UNFPA Lina Mousa said persons with disabilities encountered discrimination and exclusion on a daily basis and stressed their empowerment crucial to achieving sustainable development.

CEO National Forum of Women with Disabilities Abia Akram said around 10-15 percent of the total population of Pakistan were persons with disabilities out of which 50 percent were women.

The participants at the event endorsed a resolution to designate November 4 as National Day of Women with Disabilities.