Empowering Women with Disabilities
Women with disabilities have always been considered as direct or indirect beneficiaries in Pakistan and never been engaged as leaders. The significant human rights-based approach has a great deal to say about disability inequalities. Disability Movement begins with the recognition that each of us views societal concepts and institutions from a different lens depending on our consciousness and place in society. The lack of understanding of rights of persons with disabilities as human rights is reflected in the fact that few governments are committed in domestic and foreign policy, to persons with disabilities equality as basic human right. Among non-governmental human rights organizations persons with disabilities are rarely a priority and even disabled people’s organizations have seen women with disabilities not as separate area to focus. This separation of persons with disabilities rights from human rights has perpetuated the secondary status of persons with disabilities specially women with disabilities and highlights the importance of recognizing specific women’s human rights concerns. The existing policies overlooked the issues of violation and its link between barriers faced by women with disabilities in everyday life.
STEP has coined the idea of leadership of persons with disabilities in Pakistan to ensure a just, accessible and inclusive community in which the human rights, citizenship, contribution and potential of people with disabilities are respected and celebrated. Promoting volunteerism, awareness campaigns, leadership training, employment exchange, innovative livelihood opportunities, research and information dissemination are major endeavours of STEP.
Mainstreaming of disabled people in the society
- Advocate society about the rights of disabled persons through awareness campaigns and demonstrations
- Inclusion of disabled persons in overall development process through lobbying with policy makers in public, private and development sector
- Empowerment of disabled persons through training and counseling
- Development of Accessible environment though awareness raising and consultations
- Creating bridge between disabled persons and facilities of health, education and livelihood through promoting accessible information
Statement by American Ambassador David Hale:
The United States is committed to removing barriers and creating a world in which persons with disabilities enjoy dignity and full inclusion. We work with the Government of Pakistan and organizations like the Special Talent Exchange Program (STEP) to protect and promote the rights of persons with disabilities, and provide practical support to ensure their inclusion and full participation in society.
We are proud to support the great work STEP has done highlighting the valuable contributions of Pakistani women with disabilities and advocating for their rights. As the moving personal stories in this book illustrate, Pakistan is stronger and more vibrant with the full contributions of persons with disabilities. The United States has learned this reality through its own history as well.
I congratulate both STEP and the women featured in this book on their impressive accomplishments, breaking down barriers, and being role models for others. They are an inspiration to me and many others.