Empowering persons with disabilities

Disability remains one of the most serious concerns in the country because of the stigmatization and marginalizing them into the disadvantageous position compared to their better-abled counterparts. This has led to the formation of biases and prejudices contributing to the discrimination of people with disabilities.

Therefore, there is need to increase the inclusion of every dimension to empower People With Disabilities (PWD) to their best ability and capabilities.

As per the Population Housing and Census of Bhutan (2017), 2.1 percent of the population is registered with disabilities in the country. Of over 1,600 children are living with disabilities and only about 750 of them go to school. 

Article 7 (Fundamental Rights) Section 15 of the Constitution states that ‘All persons are equal before the law and are entitled to equal and effective protection of the law and shall not be discriminated against on the grounds of race, sex, language, religion, politics or other status’.

Further, Article 9 (Principles of State Policy) Section 22 states ‘The State shall endeavour to provide security in the event of sickness and disability or lack of adequate means of livelihood for reasons beyond one’s control’.

There is very little information and studies conducted on disability to inform on the nature, type of disabilities and challenges faced by persons with disabilities.

Despite the existence of gaps, people are now aware about the disability and prevention, causes and starting to accept as the part of the family and community.

However, PWDs miss the benefits of development and opportunities for participation due to a variety of reasons and are still in need of targeted support from the government and community.

Persons with disabilities often face significant levels of discrimination and stigma in their everyday lives. Many are not visible in society, and are prevented from participating in their communities and families. Women and girls with disabilities are at particular risk as they live with double discrimination. Most of the parents of children with disabilities are hesitant to expose their children in the society.

To that end, related agencies urges stakeholders in the welfare of the country and its people to contribute in one form, way or another to empower PWDs during the National Conference on Disability organized by Ability Society of Bhutan (ABS).

Through the lens of multidisciplinary perspectives, all should contribute to promote inclusive services and disability rights, mainly through the implementation of National Disability Policy.

PWDs, being doubly disadvantaged and vulnerable, need the support from their family, community, not simply out of sympathy but because this population have equal rights like everyone. 

Why must we act deaf when we could all make a difference?