Govt. incorporate PWDs’ voices in country statement for SDGs int’l moot: Gillani Munazza Gillani
ISLAMABAD, Sep 6 (APP):Country Director, Sightsavers, Munazza Gillani on Tuesday urged the interim government to ensure that the voices and input of persons with disabilities were incorporated in the country statement of Pakistan to be presented at the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) conference to be held in New York from September 18-19 this year.
Addressing a news conference here flanked by Founder and Chairperson National Forum for Women with Disabilities, Abia Akram and General Secretary, Community and Inclusive Development Network, Asim Zafar, the Sightsavers country director emphasised the need to reflect the insights of the PWDs in the global development agenda goals being pledged by the country.
Munazza Gillani said the SDGs were a global commitment pledged by all the member state representatives at the UN which were set back in 2015. “Since, we are in the last lag of the year 2023. It is an ideal time to review SDGs status and progress on the targets.,” she said.
Gillani said the 17 SDGs intended to end poverty and achieve equal rights for all whereas the UN member states would participate in the SDGs summit and release a political statement which is important.
“We are requesting the government that the voices of PWDs and relevant departments should be added in this process and the country statement to be presented at the SDGs summit,” she reiterated.
Underscoring the scarcity of data at the national level pertaining to the PWDs, she said there were no exact number of PWDs in Pakistan. “According to the WHO, there is 15% disability ratio in the population of Pakistan making it to 36 million people having disabilities of various kind,” she added.
She informed that the Ministry of Planning and Development at the federal level had an SDGs Unit that was monitoring the progress on SDGs whereas the departments on the subject at the sub-national level working on SDGs were not sharing data with SDGs Unit. The Sightsavers started connecting all the departments working on SDGs with the Unit at the Planning Ministry.
She urged the nation to unite with the Sightsavers and other organisations to take the message of inclusion of PWDs forward to give opportunities and rights to them without any discrimination.
Founder and Chairperson National Forum for Women with Disabilities and Sightsavers’ Global Ambassador, Abia Akram highlighted the challenges and problems faced by the PWDs and their less representation at critical forums that need to be addressed.
Secretary General, Community and Inclusive Development Network, Asim Zafar said that the SDGs were unachievable without the participation of all the segments of society. The Millennium Development Goals prior to the SDGs had failed due to the absence of inclusion of all factions of the social strata, he said.
“Our focus today is that the government and SDGs department, INGOs and media should also consider PWDs wherever SDGs are discussed. The terminologies used by media for PWDs like specially-abled person is not acceptable and it should be changed as PWDs,” he added.
Responding to media queries, Munazza Gillani said before SDGs there were MDGs and Pakistan was part of it and it had set its goals as per its local realities. She added that the country was the first among the few nations to establish an SDGs Secretariat at its Parliament and had a strong political will behind the cause.