Society diversity

Watch: Pakistan’s First Lady calls for an inclusive society for determined people at Expo 2020 event in Dubai

Dubai: Samina Alvi, the First Lady of Pakistan – wife of President Dr Arif Alvi – stressed the need for an inclusive society for determined people at an Expo 2020 event in Dubai on Thursday.

A strong advocate for the rights of determined people, Alvi was the guest of honor at a seminar on “Pakistan — A Progressive Country Towards Inclusion and Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities,” held at the Pakistan Pavilion. at Expo. 2020 Dubai.

She said she was happy that the event took place at Expo 2020 Dubai “from where the true image of Pakistan in culture, business, trade and tourism has been projected over the past five months. “. “We are trying to improve the image of Pakistan in all areas. The President of Pakistan and I personally feel great love and concern for people with disabilities and they are very close to our hearts. It is a great pleasure for me to be here, to talk about this segment of society that really deserves to have access to all opportunities, especially in terms of education and employment,” she said. declared.

After visiting special schools and training centers for determined people across Pakistan, she said she saw how they were endowed with several abilities. “But unfortunately society does not include disability. The government of Pakistan is trying to remove the feeling of deprivation among people with disabilities by giving them equal opportunities in all areas,” she said.

Samina Alvi, Sheikha Dr Hind Al Qassimi and other dignitaries during the seminar at the Pakistan Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.
Image credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Global policies, projects

She presented an overview of global policies and projects adopted to provide one-stop registration for determined individuals, to strengthen their financial independence by opening bank accounts as well as creating job opportunities in banks and other institutions. She also highlighted the social housing program and the scholarship program for determined individuals.

“We have increased the quota of people with disabilities in government jobs. We also asked private organizations to create employment opportunities and ensure their placement to make them strong and confident,” Alvi said.

“It is our religious duty to take care of special people. Let us join hands to work together for this segment of society that deserves our love and special attention,” she added.

Exchange best practices

Talk to Gulf News later, Alvi said that his visit was also aimed at seeking an exchange of best practices with the United Arab Emirates, in particular with Dubai, to create an inclusive society for people with disabilities. She said the Expo was “beautifully done”. “Dubai is not only a beautiful place to visit, it is also very accessible to people with disabilities. We really appreciate what Dubai does [in this regard]. We want to adopt some good things from here and we also want to share what we are doing in Pakistan,” she said.

New census method

Alvi said a new method to be adopted in Pakistan’s national census should give a clear picture of the number of people with physical limitations in the country. “We added six Washington Group questions to the census questionnaire. It will provide reliable, high-quality data, which will be based on international standards,” she said.

The new questionnaire will be added to the next national census in 2023, said Dr Maryam Mallick, Technical Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Pakistan for Disability, Rehabilitation, Injury Prevention and Road Safety, who previously gave a presentation on ‘A Vision Towards a Disability Inclusive Pakistan’.

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Adeeb Aijaz, co-founder of Determined Pakistan, addresses guests at the Pakistan Pavilion on Thursday.
Image credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

With inadequate tools to assess disability in previous censuses, the number of nationally determined people has not been accurately assessed, she pointed out.

Extrapolating the WHO estimate that 15% of the population has some form of disability, Dr Mallick said there were around 33 million people in Pakistan living with some kind of disability. She said the Federal Bureau of Statistics has added six questions prepared by the Washington Group on Disability Statistics, which will be used to determine the number of people with physical disabilities in the next census. “We are also going to have a record of disability-disaggregated data for people with disabilities in the national database,” she added.

Strong political commitment

Citing several initiatives taken by Pakistan to uplift the determined people and appreciating the personal involvement of the President and First Lady of Pakistan in their support, Dr Mallick said the highest level of political commitment has made a sea of change in the empowerment and inclusion of the special segment of society.

Sheikha Dr. Hind Al Qassimi, who was the guest of honour, said she was impressed with the great progress made by Pakistan in offering support to the determined people.

The event witnessed a panel discussion and a presentation of the successes of different groups in supporting determined people through various initiatives and products. It also became an example of inclusion by having a disabled host (lawyer and disability advocate Sana Khurshid) and live sign language interpretation by sign language specialist Azima Dhanjee, who co-founded ConnectHear – a Pakistani startup that provides sign language interpreting services through a mobile app.