Pakistan: Disability Dreams!
By Dr.Rakhshinda Perveen
In an inequitable world Women have greater (19%) prevalence rate of disability rate in comparison to men who have 12% of
this share. Large-scale researches have established that every minute, more than 30 women are seriously injured or
disabled during labor and those 15 – 50 million women generally go unnoticed. Women also meet barriers in accessing
labor markets where Men with disabilities are almost twice as likely to have jobs as Women with disabilities.
Several international frameworks, instituted to improve the condition and position of people with disabilities with a
special focus on women and girls in terms of their accessibility, housing, education, health and other human rights,
The UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities
(UNCRPD) recognizes in Article 27, the right of persons with disabilities to work, on an equal basis with others. The
Article 6 of the CRPD recognizes that women and girls with disabilities face multiple and intersecting forms of
discrimination In the preamble to the Convention attention is drawn to the particular susceptibility of women and girls
with disabilities to violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation. The 2030
Agenda for Sustainable Development, with the principle of “leaving no one behind”, not only explicitly appreciates
gender equality and disability as cross-cutting issues by the international community, but is an implied commitment to
the empowerment of women with disabilities.
What is happening in Pakistan that decided to count these people quite late and that has found only 0.48 per cent of the
total population in the recently concluded census? Pakistan has ratified CRPD; The Disabled Persons (Employment and
Rehabilitation) Ordinance, No. 46 of 1981, bears a National Policy for Persons with Disability 2002 and National Plan of
Action (NPA) to implement the National Policy for Persons with Disabilities, 2006.
Limited private initiatives, charities and NGOs are striving to raise awareness for the social security of disabled
persons; however, others focus more on only advocacy rather than implementing change. The shining examples of late Saima
Ammar, Late Dr.Fatima Shah, Late Dr. Salma Maqbool, Late Prof. Izhar Awan, Late Sarmad Tariq as well as Abia Akram,
Muniba Mazarai, Romela Hameed, Maria Zia, Maria Qureshi, Muhammad Atif, Raja Imran, Lozina Shoaib, Aqsa Ali, Dr.Anam
Najam and many more prominent and unsung heroes, provide inspiration to many. It is obligatory for this society to not
marginalize those who are disabled because there is so much more to them than their condition. A report released by the
British Council in 2014 revealed excluding Persons with Disabilities, leads to economic losses of as much as US$11.9bn
to US$15.4bn in Pakistan, or 4.9% and 6.3% of the country’s GDP. The latest status is not known.
The country has dearth of the reliable data about the sex, age, regional distribution and marital status of persons with
disabilities, the nature of their respective disabilities and the level of their integration, mainstreaming and
inclusion in the development sector, media and public spaces.
Even if one manages to overlook the inexcusable inequalities in rural Pakistan, one cannot ignore the way management and
residents behave in modern urban cities. It can be observed, that not a single city including the capital is conscious
of the needs of the disabled. The insensitive and ignorant drivers often occupy the parking lots for the disabled. Even
the five star hotels have no arrangements for the wheel bound ones to use the toilet. Is this a reflection of the moral
decay of the society and the state that a basic human right cannot be materialized without the logo and backing of an
international donor agency? In spite of being a part of the development sector and being aware of this injustice, I am
still an optimistic activist who wants the state to address the practical and strategic gender needs of the disabled on
a priority basis. I ardently desire that social justice must not be delayed and rights of disabled should be
acknowledged immediately through empathetic actions of our governments.
Taking notice of the broad-spectrum apathy towards the disabled, for the last two decades or so, I have been talking
about (in vain so far), in business chambers, universities, ministries, fancy receptions, dazzling dinners etc., the
need of constructing ramps and installing voice traffic signals. To say the least, the Capital city should emerge as a
gender sensitized and humane city in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The space must be assorted with the ramps,
vestibules, voice traffic signals, separate walking space for those with white canes and braille menus in the
The heartbreaking date of October 8, which represents the horrendous earthquake 2005 that changed lastingly, the lives
of many thousands and left many with paralyzed limbs along with their traumatized families. The nation was affected
exceedingly by that earth-shattering day but there are those who live with visible scars and are trying to keep their
dignities intact to move forward with life. The earthquake highlighted the fault lines in our construction business and
planning cycles; thus to commemorate all those who suffered, let us all come together and urge the state to not only
comprehend the needs of all disabled persons but also take action now, not later, to ensure their accessibility, easier.
The writer is a gender expert, researcher, activist and a free thinker.
She can be reached at email@example.com
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) works towards the radical rethinking and fundamental redesigning of justice
institutions in order to protect and promote human rights in Asia. Established in 1984, the Hong Kong based organisation
is a Laureate of the Right Livelihood Award, 2014.
Visit our website with more features at