Removing Barriers in Nepal for Persons with Disabilities
Across the globe, people with disabilities face an array of societal barriers that put them at a severe disadvantage. In the United States people with disabilities are four times as likely to be a victim of violence. In Australia, the disabled community has a ten percent greater chance of being obese. In Malawi, disabled children are considerably more likely to have dropped out of or never attended primary school. In Peru, the employment rate is roughly 40 percent lower for the disabled community. These disadvantages – which are unfortunately exacerbated in low-income countries – pose as serious obstacles to a country’s development and its observance of civic and human rights. Fortunately, community leaders like Padam Pariyar from Nepal are working to change this reality.
Padam envisions a more inclusive Nepal, a more accessible Nepal, a Nepal wherein the infrastructure, attitudes and policies take into consideration people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations. “There will be programs targeted at people with disabilities and as a result they will access services and benefits and live a more dignified life.”
A 2012 Community Solutions Program (CSP) Leader, Pariyar has grappled with these challenges in his home country for nearly 10 years now, first as a Technical Officer with Handicap International Nepal and most recently through his CSP fellowship with the US International Council on Disabilities. In Nepal, Pariyar asserts, the disability community faces barriers related to local infrastructure, social stigmas, information access and government policies, all of which make it increasingly difficult for the disabled to achieve high health, education and employment standards. This is precisely why seasoned professionals such as Pariyar recognize the importance of a two-pronged approach in ameliorating the situation, wherein civil society and government work together to construct the policies that will help support inclusivity and accessibility at all levels.
The 2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, gives activists the legislative backbone for advocacy initiatives and lobbying. Now ratified by over 150 countries, the convention has made great strides towards addressing the societal barriers that exist in countries like Nepal. As a CSP Leader, Pariyar has spent a good portion of his fellowship with USICD on helping to increase awareness of the convention across the globe and has provided insight to the organization on how the convention translates on the ground. “The convention is the key tool for the advocacy with the government authorities to make a policy change," Pariyar says, "to make the policy inclusive and accessible for people with disabilities.” Over the last four months, Pariyar has worked to uphold the convention’s principles while strengthening the capacity of disability rights advocates on the ground through USICD’s Global Disability Rights Library, a digital library of information and resources advocates around the world can use to support their causes.
Pariyar will return home to Nepal this month bringing new ideas and energy from his fellowship to continue his work making a better world for people with disabilities.