US embassy held conference to advance disability rights

ISLAMABAD: American Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale Tuesday opened a leadership conference for persons with disabilities while meeting approximately 70 Pakistani disability rights advocates.

According to a statement issued here, American Embassy is collaborating with Mobility International and the Special Talent Exchange Programme (STEP) on a programme to empower Pakistanis with disabilities and their allies.

The group discussed the status of the rights of persons with disabilities in Pakistan, disability inclusion, legislation on disability rights and ways to empower persons with disabilities.

“Removing barriers and creating a world in which disabled people enjoy

dignity and full inclusion is our goal,” said Ambassador Hale. “To achieve it, we work with governments and organizations like STEP, to protect and promote the rights of disabled people and provide practical support to facilitate their integration, inclusion, and participation in society”.

“Young persons with disabilities in Pakistan need to develop an

understanding of rights-based approaches for legislation, and this training will be a timely intervention from American experts who have been part of the movement for the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said STEP President Mohammad Atif Sheikh.

Abia Akram, STEP Director, added, “I am glad that a large number of women with disabilities had a chance to learn from the experience of disability leaders from the United States through this opportunity.”

Recently, the American Embassy concluded a one-year program managed by STEP to support Pakistani women with disabilities and to increase public and Pakistani government awareness about the rights of women with disabilities.