The enthusiasm and energy of thousands gathered to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities filled India Gate with color, music, dance performances and engaging debate. With the support of Tarsadia Foundation, the “Walk to Freedom” was jointly organized by AIF and the National Centre for Promotion of Employment of Disabled People (NCPEDP) on December 3, 2018.
The event brought together the civil society organizations, bureaucrats, policy makers, activists and Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) from different parts of India. Colorful and lively performances of students from the National Association for the Blind (Delhi), We are One group (Delhi), Muskan School, and SNS Foundation, left the audience mesmerized in awe and inspiration.
Interestingly, this year’s theme for the International Day for Persons with Disabilities was “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.” With a message of “Leaving no one behind,” the event emphasized the significance of empowering PwDs to ensure their inclusive, equitable and sustainable development, as envisaged in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
AIF through its Ability Based Livelihood Empowerment (ABLE) program empowers Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) in skills training, thus, paving their way into job market. We are grateful to Tarsadia Foundation for supporting ABLE’s efforts to advocate inclusion of persons with disabilities in the workforce and acceptance of disabilities within larger communities (SDG 5, 8, 10, 17).
The enactment of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act 2016 was a watershed moment for the disabled population in India, however, a huge percentage of this population remains unaware of their rights, and the government service and programs available for them. ABLE has been creating awareness amongst PwDs, empowering them to rightfully seek government services and programs for their welfare.
AIF has also developed a “MANUAL on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act, 2016” to sensitize PwDs about the provisions of RPWD Act, as per various stakeholders. The MANUAL was released by Nishant Pandey (CEO, AIF), and Mathew Joseph (Country Director, AIF) and Arman Ali (Executive Director, NCPEDP) during the event. It has been jointly developed by AIF and NCPEDP,
Addressing the audience, Nishant Pandey (CEO, AIF), said that “in order to provide more opportunities to the differently-abled, it is essential to increase awareness in the private sector as well.” Mathew Joseph (Country Director, AIF) emphasized that “It’s not the job of the government alone, not even the NGOs, to foster inclusiveness. Inclusiveness is everyone’s responsibility.” Speaking on the occasion Arman Ali (Executive Director, NCPEDP) added, “Unity is strength for us. We must think about the disabled in backward areas as well. We have to understand the challenges within ourselves, and then demand rights.”
The event concluded as the crowd participated in the symbolic “Walk to Freedom” to show solidarity amongst Persons with Disabilities.
Since its inception, ABLE program has empowered 14,276 Persons with Disabilities in skills training and workplace readiness, while creating 8,534 jobs for Persons with Disabilities. We are grateful to Tarsadia Foundation for their immense support to AIF’s ABLE program in ensuring advocacy for the inclusion of persons with disabilities.