December 3rd, 2019, New Delhi-Many thousands of people with disabilities congregated at the India Gate Amar Jawan Jyoti to celebrate the World Disability Day or the International Day of Persons with Disabilities as it is now known. Organized by the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) in partnership with American India Foundation (AIF) on December 03 annually, with music and dance at this historical venue, the Walk to Freedom is an enthusiastic reminder of the struggles of the disability rights movement.
The theme for 2019 is ‘The Future is Accessible’—a call to prioritize equity and accessibility. The event saw energetic performances by students from the National Association of the Deaf (Mime), Muskaan School and a singer, Diwakar Sharma while a group of wheelchair dancers – We are One- held the audience spell bound with their pirouettes.
Addressing the audience, AIF’s Country Director Mathew Joseph said, ““Ensuring accessibility for people with disabilities means more than building ramps and accessible restrooms. It calls for a change in basic attitudes. Small initiatives that can make a difference on the ground need to be started now, so that we can make the change happen. Only when people with disabilities can live their lives free of unjust barriers will the work be done. We are grateful to NCPEDP for their active engagement in this cause, and to Tarsadia Foundation USA for supporting AIF’s advocacy efforts. On behalf of the American India Foundation, we request everyone to support the call for greater accessibility to PwDs.”
Speaking at the occasion Mr Arman Ali, Executive Director, NCPEDP said “We are just round the corner from the third anniversary of the enactment of the RPWD act. Yet even after all this, people with disabilities continue to face discrimination, they do not have access to fundamental rights like education, health. Accessibility remains the biggest hurdle. Women with disabilities are facing unprecedented violence. While there is a lot of noise around disability, it is yet to get its right place in the development space. If the future needs to be accessible, we should ensure that we are leaving no one behind. If we are consciously going to keep the numbers low, disability will continue to remain an issue.”.
The American India Foundation is committed to catalyzing social and economic change in India, and building a lasting bridge between the United States and India through high-impact interventions in education, livelihoods, public health, and leadership development. Working closely with local communities, AIF partners with NGOs to develop and test innovative solutions and with governments to create and scale sustainable impact. Founded in 2001 at the initiative of President Bill Clinton following a suggestion from Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee, AIF has impacted the lives of 5.6 million of India’s poor. AIF’s Ability Based Livelihoods Empowerment (ABLE) trains persons with disabilities and facilitates their entry into the job market through advocacy, promoting inclusive growth in India. Learn more at www.AIF.org.