Reducing poverty and ensuring social integration for persons with disabilities in Afghanistan
Statement of Mr. Ahmad Zahir Faqiri
Deputy Permanent Representative (DPR) of Afghan Mission to the United Nations
Commission for Social Development
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish to begin by thanking the organizers of today’s event, and The Right Honorable Kim Campbell, for moderating our panel. I am pleased to be here today among fellow panellists. The Commission for Social Development is involved with important work and I am pleased to contribute to panel through focusing on the theme, “Reducing poverty and ensuring social integration for persons with disabilities in Afghanistan.”
The Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is now in the process of reversing decades of economic and social decline from long years of conflict through a series of initiatives with significant assistance from international donors. While efforts are underway to ensure equitable growth and development opportunities for all, there has been a special focus on vulnerable groups and especially people with disabilities. In Afghanistan, one out of every five households has a person with disabilities. While this is only a conservative estimate according to the national sample survey, the actual prevalence of disability could be around 15% considering the definition of a person with disabilities under the UNCRPD (UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities).
This survey indicate that majority of persons with disabilities are in the age under 14 yrs. Among the population of children in Afghanistan, children with disabilities face many challenges and are in a vulnerable situation due to various reasons such as poverty, illiteracy, lack of health and nutritional support apart from prevailing insecure environment. The level of literacy is the lowest among children with disabilities and especially among girls with disabilities. The Survey also pointing out that around 73% of children with disabilities above the age of 6 do not receive education, with the rates of school attendance even lower for girls with disabilities. Economic difficulties and burden on the families to arrange transportation are the main causes for high drop-out rates among children with disabilities.
The constitution of Afghanistan has many enabling articles that promote and protect the rights of the people with disabilities. In addition to the constitution, the government of Afghanistan has formulated a number of legal frameworks and strategies to empower people with disabilities to overcome poverty and to promote social integration.
Ladies and gentlemen
The Government of Afghanistan has recently passed legislation for persons with disabilities titled ‘Law of Rights and Privileges of Persons with Disabilities’. This Law has been established to provide economic, social, political, cultural, educational, and rehabilitation support for the disabled (men, women and children) to ensure their rights and active participation in society. The law provides 3% reservation of jobs in government and private sector.
The Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disability (MOLSAMD) with active cooperation and participation of civil society framed an action plan as a way forward to integrate the economic and social needs of the persons with disabilities within the over- arching framework of the Afghanistan national development strategy and other key national policies.
The following measures have been envisaged for people with disabilities to achieve economic and social integration within the Afghan society;
- Promoting decent employment for all, including people with disabilities by developing efficient labor market.
- Reduce the risk of poverty among people with disabilities through developing social insurance.
- Reduce poverty and social exclusion through developing social assistance arrangements.
- Strengthening extended network of social care services for the protection of people with disabilities
- Enhance awareness about the socio-economic needs of people with disabilities
- Strengthening capacity to lead national labor and social protection policy development and implementation.
In order to fulfil its responsibilities both in National and International level to protect and promote the human right values, the government of Afghanistan, apart from the national instruments has joined the following international conventions and frame works
The following treaties ratified by the government of Afghanistan are enabling people with disabilities to overcome poverty and to join the mainstream of development: Convention on the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personal mine and on their destruction; The Convention on Cluster Munitions; UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and Vocational rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) Convention.
There has been substantial work undertaken by the government, UN agencies, international development organizations and the Afghan civil society in establishing economic, social and legal institutional foundations to promote the interest of vulnerable populations which includes people with disabilities as well. Through development and humanitarian work, disability is emerging as a cross-cutting issue in all policy and programme development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation process. The government of Afghanistan has identified the following principal areas of intervention to create enabling environment for people with disabilities: Access to education, especially for girls and women with disabilities; Access to justice; Access to decent and full employment; and Good governance for persons with disabilities.
The Afghanistan relevant institutions will sensitize the officials of the key ministries impacting the lives of people with disabilities to deal with issues related to disability benevolently and with all sensitivity. Disbursement of pensions and other social security benefits will take place in a time frame manner. The Directorate will ensure that grievances related to social security benefits are disposed -off without inordinate delay and within the time stipulated by the government. The proposed disability commission will monitor the process ensuring good governance to persons with disabilities in all the key departments.
The disability movement is largely led by the civil society which is exposed to ‘social and a rights-based model’ of approaching disability. The Disability Stakeholder Group in Afghanistan comprises NGO, INGOs and members from the civil society such as the media who attend monthly meetings and are part of the decision –making process of the ministry regarding all issues related to policies and programmes for people with disabilities. The government will ensure that the disability stakeholders group of Afghanistan is consulted by the UN Country Team in preparing the UN Strategic Framework in accordance with the UN Guidelines.
No single agency can fulfil the needs of people with disabilities alone; all development agencies should include disability as a key component within their efforts. Afghanistan is going through a brisk period of reconstruction and development. It will be the policy of the government to ensure that disability becomes a ‘cross-cutting theme in our agenda. Every effort will be made by the government to include disability within the policies and programmes of agencies such as UN, NGOs, civil societies, donor agencies and other ministries. The proposed National Institute for Persons with Disabilities will have a department for promoting disability policy and advocacy which will specifically focus on mainstreaming disability within the national agenda of all the stakeholders.
I thank you.