Volume 3 Issue 21 - November 01, 2005

National Conference held on empowering livelihoods

D.N.I.S. News Network - The National Conference organised by Poorest Areas Civil Society (P.A.C.S.) from 24 to 26 October 2005 in New Delhi with the focus on empowering livelihoods, took up for deliberations on women empowerment, employment generation, opportunities through Self-Help Groups (S.H.G.), people living on the margins of society, disability, and other related issues.

For the fist time Disability was included as one of the themes. Overall the emphasis was on mainstreaming disability in development programmes, especially in areas covered by the P.A.C.S. programme.

In the Session on Disability (plenary) Javed Abidi, Executive Director, National Centre for Promotion for Employment of Disabled People (N.C.P.E.D.P.) presented a perspective paper. He spoke about the correlation between disability and poverty, the National Disability Network and problems of education and employment. He stated that the actual population of disabled people in India is much higher than the official figures, but even going by these figures, there are millions of people not getting the benefits of education and employment, and none of the legislations are being effectively implemented. Speaking about the National Disability Network he said there are about 25-30 partners in P.A.C.S. districts.

T. D. Dhariyal, Deputy Chief Commissioner for Disability, said there needs to be coordinated effort in order to create an inclusive, barrier-free and rights-based society. He spoke of all the legal provisions available, and said that the civil society's role is most important in any change coming about. He said the society should be made aware and that the mindset and attitude of people should change.

Important areas covered in the Disability Session were Mainstreaming Disability in Development Projects, Critical Assessment of the National and State Policies and the Disability Act, Access to Basic Services, and Challenges of Aging with Disability. All speakers stressed on the need for effective implementation of the legal provisions and the important role society needs to play in the process.

Mathew Cherian, Chief Executive of Helpage India, put forth interesting options that the disability sector could look into. He said Helpage India has been selling Greeting Cards with great success and the same has been a great source of funding for many groups across the country. Again, disability organisations and old age organisations could market together equipment such as wheelchairs, walking sticks, and so on.

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