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Engagement and participation: the keys to the SDGs

Sightsavers, July 2017

Anuradha Pareek is a disability advocate and local government councillor in Bikaner, India.

She was due to attend this week’s High-Level Political Forum held at the United Nations building in New York and speak at Sightsavers’ side event, but had a delay in her visa that meant she was unable to travel. This is an edited excerpt of the speech she delivered via video to the side event on Monday 17 July.

Anuradha Pareek, a 32-year-old lady from India, is standing in a draw way smiling.

“One of the most important aspects of planning a project is the participation of people with disabilities”

I am Anuradha Pareek, representing the DPO (Disabled People’s Organisation) of Bikaner district of Rajasthan India.

I am really happy to represent my brothers and sisters with disabilities at an international forum and contribute towards betterment of their lives.

It’s heartening to see valuable efforts being put by Sightsavers and the United Nations through the High-Level Political Forum for ensuring the participation and contribution of people with disabilities in the development of society and working towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). All these efforts are going to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs, support the government of India in effective implementation of its activities, strengthen government systems, enhance accountability and ownership, and facilitate the reach of government schemes to all people with disabilities located in far-flung areas.

One of the most important aspects of planning a project is the engagement and participation of people with disabilities, women, older people and the most marginalised communities in the planning phase. It’s really important to have their views while designing activities, ensure the felt and real needs of the people are considered, and design projects which are inclusive in nature and accommodate and benefit all sections of society.

I am sure the government of India will actively participate in the voluntary national review process and contribute to the SDGs. I hope the government of India will definitely ensure effective participation of all its officials at national, state and district level, develop their understanding on SDGs and their importance, and monitor their projects against the Goals.

For ensuring the reach of projects and schemes to the last person in the far-flung villages, I feel it will be good if the government of India can engage with the local NGOs, DPOs and community-based organisations, educating and spreading awareness on the SDGs. As grassroots workers we can provide support to the government to reach out to many people with disabilities.

The SDGs are important – at this stage we are in the process of developing our understanding, and it’s really important to understand each and every aspect of the SGDs, especially the ones which we are focusing on. The DPOs need to have a clear understanding of the SDGs and to meet the goals we need to think and come up with practical solutions for addressing the problems of people with disabilities. We need to learn from success stories and challenges faced and effectively monitor the plans, keeping ourselves updated of the latest information on the SDGs. We need to engage with DPOs, people with disabilities and community-based organisations in neighbouring districts, and support them in developing their understanding.

I am hopeful that with the support from organisations like Sightsavers we will be able to have a better understanding of the SDGs and effectively implement the activities, while simultaneously supporting and strengthening the efforts of the government of India in making the voluntary national review process effective.

I am grateful to Sightsavers and the efforts that support people with disabilities and women in leading a good quality and dignified life.

Read Anuradha’s story

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