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The Global Disability Summit: views from Pakistan and Kenya

Sightsavers, February 2022

The Global Disability Summit, taking place on 16-17 February, aims to encourage organisations and governments to commit to upholding the rights of people with disabilities.

Hosted by the International Disability Alliance, the Government of Norway and the Government of Ghana, it will bring together organisations of people with disabilities, governments and global organisations.

Ahead of the 2022 summit, our country office teams in Pakistan and Kenya spoke to the organisations of people with disabilities they work with about their hopes for the event, challenges they face, and the progress made since the 2018 summit.

Disability activist Abia Akram speaking into a microphone from her wheelchair on stage at the Global Disability Summit
Disability activist Abia Akram on stage at the Global Disability Summit in 2018.

Pakistan

In Pakistan, we asked Asim, from the Saaya Foundation and Community Based Inclusive Development Network, what action needs to be taken by decision-makers attending the Global Disability Summit (GDS).

What are the main challenges your organisations of people with disabilities (OPD) members are currently facing?

The main challenges are lack of assistive devices, accessible transport and accessibility in all government and private institutions. Moreover, our disability laws are not yet fully implemented.

Would commitments made at the Global Disability Summit help to address these challenges?

The government of Pakistan will be accountable for ensuring the inclusion of people with disabilities and implementation of the laws at all levels after making commitments at the Global Disability Summit.

We hope that the government will make infrastructure accessible as a priority, and will make more inclusive development programmes after considering the needs of people with disabilities.

Has there been progress towards government commitments made at the first Global Disability Summit in 2018?

The government has passed disability bills at provincial and national levels – we had meetings with government representatives to speed up the process.

The Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) disability bill was approved in 2020 and a special committee that includes people with disabilities was created to ensure the law is implemented.

Also, for the first time, the Washington Group Short Set of questions was included in the Pakistan Social and Living Standard Measurement (PSLM) survey, to count the number of people with disabilities in a sample. This has paved the way for an inclusive census in 2022, and the government has made a commitment to include disability-related questions in the data collection tools.

Another development is that Pakistan’s parliament house became the first-ever disability-friendly parliament house in the country’s history, establishing a model for all public and private sector institutions to accommodate accessibility.

These steps show commitment from the government of Pakistan towards the inclusion of people with disabilities. This is why we’ve been looking for further action from the government, including participating in the Global Disability Summit.

What kind of follow-up process is needed to ensure governments meet their commitments at the 2022 summit?

A follow-up report should be shared by the government of Pakistan. Shadow reports by the OPD networks can be developed and shared with all stakeholders so that we can ask the government for implementation.

What message would you give to the decision-makers and organisations attending the summit?

Ensure the inclusion of people with disabilities at all levels and consult people with disabilities before making any plans.

“We hope that the government of Pakistan will make accessible infrastructure a priority”

A panel of six speakers sit on stage at the Global Disability Summit in 2018.
Speakers at a panel discussion during the first-ever Global Disability Summit, which was held in London in 2018.

Kenya

Our team in Kenya spoke with several organisations of people with disabilities in the country to find out about the issues affecting them, and what they hope for from the summit.

What are the main challenges your OPD members are currently facing?

There are many: limited funding to design interventions around Global Disability Summit commitments; limited negotiating power; budgetary issues and a lack of assistive devices needed to support our work. There are post-COVID-19 effects – especially virtual meetings, as many OPDs are not able to attend these. There are also sustainability issues: OPDs are unable to engage employers consistently because members have to work elsewhere in order to support themselves. Some employers are also sceptical of OPDs and their work.

Would commitments made at the Global Disability Summit help address these challenges?

Positive action and commitments at the 2022 summit would lead to the expansion of social protection programmes, as well as support for OPDs in carrying out community-based advocacy and awareness-raising on disability.

OPDs will be able to engage employers consistently if contracted for longer and with better terms of service. Inclusive employment will be a priority, meaning greater employability of people with disabilities in all sectors of employment.

The key role OPDs have played in progress towards commitments [from 2018] must be recognised, giving them a bigger role, including in funding post-summit interventions.

Are you participating in any meetings or other activity for the Global Disability Summit?

The United Disabled Persons of Kenya (UDPK) organisation is taking an active role in stakeholder forums to discuss progress on Global Disability Summit commitments (and collecting data on this from other OPDs). It is also carrying out meetings for OPDs to come together and share their perspectives on the implementation of the commitments and their aspirations for the upcoming summit.

What message would you give to the decision-makers and organisations attending the summit?

They need to ensure OPDs have more decision-making power and funding in post-summit interventions. They must be more committed and show action towards the challenges faced by people with disabilities.

They must recognise the requirements of OPDs at the community level and involve OPDs in the planning and attendance of global summit meetings.

At the Global Disability Summit 2022, we propose OPDs be autonomous in all ways: equal opportunities for all regardless of nature and race.

What has been some of the progress on government commitments made in the first Global Disability Summit conference in 2018?

There has been some progress on stigma and discrimination, including the development of the Disability Mainstreaming Manual and the Disability Awareness Creation Booklet. A few government buildings are now disability-friendly.

We are continuing to push for the passing of the Persons with Disabilities (Repeal Bill) as well as the ratification of the African Disability Protocol (on the rights of people with disabilities in Africa).

A state-of-the-art educational assessment and resource centre has been set up at the Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE), and accessible digital textbooks (ADT) have been developed for learners with disabilities. Minimum standards for the educational assessment of learners with disabilities have also been developed, to be used by educational assessment and resource centres.

A job portal for people with disabilities and employers has been created, where employers can look at resumes or CVs of people with disabilities and advertise jobs. Government job advertisements encourage people with disabilities to apply.

The Washington Group Short Set of questions has been included in the Kenya Population and Housing Census 2019 to capture disability data, and a technical working group on disability data, which includes OPDs, has been created. The group will play a key role in the availability of disability data in Kenya.

What needs to happen to make sure commitments made at the 2022 Global Disability Summit are properly put into action?

We need to continue to be involved in the various discussion forums. In Kenya, the constitution talks about five per cent employment of people with disabilities in both appointive and elective positions – this should be made mandatory. Special incentives for institutions that employ people with disabilities should be set up, and we need better working conditions.

“At the summit, we propose organisations of people with disabilities be autonomous in all ways”

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