Disability Alliance on SDGs Bangladesh and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have urged the government of Bangladesh for effective implementation of the Persons with Disabilities Rights and Protection Act and the National Action Plan on Disability to ensure people with disabilities can have their equal rights. UNDP and Disability Alliance—a network of 27 national and international organisations working for promoting disability rights in Bangladesh—have made this appeal to the government in a national seminar titled “Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fueling an accessible and equitable world” organised on December 04, 2022 at the Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC) in Dhaka. Zuena Aziz, Principal Coordinator (SDG Affairs) at the Prime Minister’s Office of Bangladesh, attended the Seminar as the chief guest whereas Md. Kawser Ahmed, Member (Secretary), General Economics Division of the Planning Commission of Bangladesh presiding over.
The keynote paper jointly presented by Aminul Arifeen, National Project Manager of SSPS Programme at UNDP and Ayon Debnath, Advocacy, Communication Coordinator & Campaign Lead at Sightsavers stressed the need of transformative solutions for inclusive development for building an accessible and equitable Bangladesh.
Despite the fact that the government of Bangladesh has widened the social protection schemes over the past decade, many of the challenges facing people with disabilities remain unmet. While the COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed a human development crisis and that the effects of the crisis are unequally distributed, and people who have already been marginalised on the grounds of disability or gender have been disproportionately affected. This makes the need for action more urgent, so that the progress made in recent years isn’t undone. The keynote paper therefore highlighted that effective implementation of the Disability Act, and the National Action Plan is the key to ensure an inclusive, accessible, sustainable, and equal Bangladesh.
Speaking as the chief guest Zuena Aziz said, “The Government of Bangladesh under the leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is committed to upholding the rights of people with disabilities. Our national development strategies and policies are aligned with the targets of the SDGs. The 8-Five Year Plan and the National Social Security Strategy have incorporated disability inclusion. The government is putting the best efforts to make sure people with disabilities are not left behind and are considered within the country’s progressing development planning.”
Amrita Rejina Rozario, Convener of the Disability Alliance on SDGs Bangladesh and Country Director of Sightsavers, said, “The government has made eleven commitments in the Global Disability Summit 2022 which is indeed a significant progress for us. We now therefore act should-to-shoulder with the government to make those commitments real.”
Chair of the seminar, Dr. Md. Kawsar Ahmed, General Economics Division Member (Secretary) of the Planning Commission of Bangladesh said, ‘Disability inclusion is a priority area for government, and therefore, the current 8-Five Year Plan has considered the needs of the people with disabilities.” The upcoming five-year plans of the government will also widely consider disability inclusion, committed the chair.
Representatives from UN agencies including UNICEF, ILO, and UN Women also made presentations in the event on relevant thematic issues such as gender, inclusive employment, disability inclusive SDGs etc. Tahera Jabeen, Social Development Adviser at British High Commission Dhaka and Asif Kashem, Senior Programme Manager at The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of the Australian High Commission were present as the guests of honour among others.
Huma Khan, Senior Human Rights Adviser, UN Resident Coordinator’s Office, Monsur Ahmed Choudhuri, Founder Trustee, Impact Foundation, Nasima Akhter, President, National Council for Disabled Women, Salma Mahbub, Executive Director, B-SCAN, Khandaker Jahurul Alam, Executive Director, Centre for Services and Information on Disability, AHM Noman Khan, Executive Director of Centre for Disability in Development spoke in the seminar as panellists.
The seminar has been organised with the technical support from the NSSS unit of the Cabinet Vision of the Bangladesh government, General Economics Division of the Planning Commission, DFAT of the Australian High Commission, UNDP SSPS Programme, Sightsavers and Disability Alliance on SDGs Bangladesh.