Rights activists yesterday called upon the government to ensure dignity of women with disabilities by including them in the country's development process.
An ordinary woman faces numerous hurdles and deprivation in her day-to-day affairs and her challenges multiply if she has physical disabilities. Hence, women with disabilities end up being one of the most underprivileged and backward groups in the society, they observed.
They urged the government to provide work opportunities to these women as many of them remain unemployed despite having necessary skills.
They also stressed the need for bringing them under the coverage of specially designed social safety net programmes and incorporating accessibility features in buildings, roads and public transport vehicles for them.
The recommendations were made at a discussion titled “Inclusion of Women with Disabilities in Entire Development of the State”, organised by Women with Disabilities Development Foundation (WDDF) in association with Ma Ma Cash (she changes the world) at The Daily Star Centre in the capital.
Citing recent studies, WDDF Executive Director Ashrafun Nahar said approximately 99 percent women with disabilities are currently living under the poverty line as most of them are not engaged in income generating activities.
Besides, about 96 percent of the women become victims of mental, physical and sexual violence and less than one percent of the female children with disabilities get the opportunity of going to school, she added.
Advocate Sultana Kamal, eminent rights activist and chairperson of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), said women with disabilities face multidimensional hassles and discrimination that push them several steps behind.
The government is responsible for ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities. “Perhaps, the government has the goodwill to work for persons with disabilities, but it's regrettable that we cannot see its reflection...,” she added.
“We, the general public, can only make some demands and draw attention, but the main tasks have to be done by the authorities and the policy makers,” she said during her speech as the chief guest.
WDDF Chairman Shirin Akhter called upon the government to hold discussions with women with disabilities as well as their representatives before preparing the country's development plans such as the upcoming 8th five-year plan.
“We want to build an inclusive Bangladesh where we will be able to contribute to the country's development,” she said.
Road Transport and Bridges Ministry Joint Secretary Ehsan E Elahi and former Women for Women President Zakia K Hassan also spoke.