There are many other People with Disabilities like Nadia in Afghanistan. People with Disabilities face many barriers in their bid for self-determination and agency. Disability is often surrounded with mystery and taboos, which may sometimes result from religious and cultural beliefs, leading to negative attitudes and practices, contributing to further exclusion, marginalization and discrimination. In some societies including in Afghanistan, being a woman with disability means double discrimination, first for being a woman and secondly on account of being disabled. A significant number of people with disabilities live in Afghanistan. According to the National Disability Survey of 2005, 10.8% of the population was considered severely disabled in at least one function.
The theme for this year’s International Day for Persons with Disabilities is “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”. This theme is in line with key notions and the spirit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), built around the commitment to “leave no one behind“, and the guiding principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). It reminds the world of the need to make conscious and active efforts to ensure those who are risk of being left behind are included from the beginning.
The Convention is a comprehensive framework addressing the needs and rights of people with disabilities. The Convention aims to “promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.” Afghanistan ratified the CRPD and the optional protocol in 2012.
Empowerment in it basic terms means that people have a say, that they are listened to and can take control to exercise self-determination and enjoy their rights and responsibilities on an equal basis with others. Many people with disabilities face disempowerment within their families and communities. For this reason, there is a need to work with families and communities everywhere to ensure that people with disabilities become their own agents of change. When people are empowered this contributes to greater equality of opportunity in society. In practical terms, whether within government, the private corporate sector or humanitarian and development work, it means having an open mind and being curious about what steps (small or large) can be made to promote change. The ultimate goal is to promote the inherent dignity of people with disabilities. Only then can we make steps visible steps towards a more inclusive and equal society.
Handicap International believes that “twin track” approach to disability is important. At the individual level, actions should be undertaken to support and empower people with disabilities. On a broader society level, influencing the environment (actors, policies and strategies) is necessary to take into account the needs of people with disabilities.
We should all work towards full implementation of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities in Afghanistan!