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Summit on empowerment of women with disabilities held

By Our Correspondent
December 14, 2022

Islamabad : To assess the current situation of women with disabilities in Pakistan and highlight the challenges and opportunities for their growth, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Pakistan and the National Forum of Women with Disabilities (NFWWD) organised the ‘National Summit for the Empowerment of Women with Disabilities’ here on Tuesday.

In Pakistan, which is ranked 147 among 188 countries in the Gender Inequality Index, women with disabilities are a largely overlooked minority. The summit brought together over 100 participants, including representatives from government authorities as well as humanitarian and development organisations to chart a way forward on a more disability inclusive environment in the country.

“A barrier-free environment is central in assisting women with disabilities reach their full potential and achieve autonomy,” said Abia Akram, CEO NFWWD. “This cannot be done without including the voice of these women in mainstream gender and disability decision-making processes.” “Immediate realisation of efforts is needed for inclusion of girls and women with disabilities in all walks of life in Pakistan,” said Mohammad Iqbal, the adviser on disability inclusion at the ICRC. “This includes their engagement through advocacy, sectoral capacity building programmes, and creating a space for their meaningful collaboration with the government multilateral agencies.”

Participants emphasised upon the needs for systematic efforts for the segregation of data to design inclusive policies and service delivery based on targeted individual and environmental requirements. They also discussed prevalent challenges, shared best practices, and made recommendations for a way forward to enable full participation of women and girls with disabilities as well as ways to combat stigma and discrimination. The discussions led to the creation of action plan for the promotion of capacity building, advocacy and partnerships to facilitate the inclusion of girls and women with disabilities and their representative organisations in decision making and policy formulation.

“It is important to understand the nuances of exclusion from the perspective of women and girls who are living with a physical disability in Pakistan. We’re thankful to the ICRC for attempting to fill this gap through this dialogue,” said Fouzia Luni, a participant in the event. The ICRC’s Disability Vision 2030 aims to design and deliver inclusive, accessible, safe, dignified and people-centric initiatives including targeted physical rehabilitation services, ensure an enabling work environment for people with disabilities, and contribute to a legal and policy environment that promotes their inclusion in humanitarian activities.