The world celebrated International Disability Day on Thursday, which raises awareness of the need to make this world a more equitable, humane and inclusive place for people with disabilities. The Pakistani government also commemorated the day and hosted several events across the country. In particular, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced special benefits for people with disabilities and said on Twitter that under the government’s new Ehsaas Kafalat policy, special persons would be entitled to a monthly grant of Rs 2,000.
Although the gesture to reach people with disabilities is valued due to a general lack of awareness of the rights of people with disabilities in the country, this measure in itself is likely to have little impact. Small amounts of cash can help mitigate the harsh effects of the pandemic on families, but it’s hard to see how it will change the way people with disabilities are treated, perceived, or opportunities taken. Instead, the country must be made more accessible for people with disabilities. This means that prostheses, hearing aids, wheelchairs and other devices are subsidized that make their way into the country easier. There is an urgent need to improve schools and work opportunities for people with disabilities. Aside from increasing quotas, there needs to be specific schooling to provide useful skills and jobs that can adapt to different needs.
There is a mountain of work to be done on the rights of people with disabilities – currently half of the jobs and even the roads are physically inaccessible. To change this, the government needs to look at more developed countries that are way ahead in their approach – quotas and cash payouts will do little if the system is not built to be inclusive at all.
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