ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: President Dr. Arif Alvi has urged the need for a comprehensive and effective awareness campaign to highlight the rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), bring behavioural change in society, remove the psychological and physical barriers in their mainstreaming and financial and economic empowerment as equal members of the society.
During a presentation on plans for an Awareness Campaign on Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) given by the President’s Press Secretary Qamar Bashir at Aiwan-e-Sadr in Islamabad on Monday, the president said that Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) or Differently Abled Persons (DAPs) constituted an important segment of our population and it was the duty of the relevant stakeholders and the society in general to ensure their inclusiveness in all aspects of life including political, economic, finance, business, trade and services.
The president called for removing psychological and physical barriers to realize the full potential of PWDs and creating enabling conditions for PWDs to help them become productive members of society.
President Arif Alvi said that there was a need to relook at our attitudes towards DAPs and bring proactive reforms in our education system from the grassroots level to educate our students at all levels regarding the rights of DAPs and the obligations and responsibilities of society to stop stereotyping them, stop the name-calling, harassment or intimidation of DAPs which are the biggest impediment towards the inclusiveness of the DAPs as fully empowered and productive member of the society.
The president said that the media, both conventional and social, had always been at the forefront to inform, educate and entertain the people and enjoyed vast reach to the urban, rural and unprivileged populations in underserved areas.
Dr. Arif Alvi added that media was the most effective and useful partner in the dissemination of purpose-made media products on the rights of DAPs and the obligations and responsibilities of society towards them.
Moreover, he said that these media products may sensitize the relevant stakeholders and general public to remove social barriers, ensure their inclusion and mainstreaming and create a harassment and discrimination-free enabling environment for DAPs.
The president called upon all the stakeholders, from the public and private sectors, including Government ministries, departments, NGOs, welfare and civil society organizations to join hands and improve the legislative, legal, and financial physical aspects related to DAPs on a top priority basis.
President Arif Alvi also highlighted the need to make buildings and public places accessible to PWDs by building PWD-friendly ramps, and called upon the private sector, especially the banking, telecom, business and industrial sectors to take steps in this regard, besides providing employment opportunities to PWDs.
The president also urged the need to make the websites of the public and private sector institutions accessible and PWD-friendly.
During the meeting, the participants of the meeting were briefed about the overall situation of PWDs, societal perceptions towards PWDs, the role of media in creating awareness about the rights of PWDs, etiquettes and manners for interaction with PWDs, and using the right terminology to refer to PWDs or Differently Abled People.