Petition launched urging UN and governments to ensure people with disabilities are not left out of COVID-19 response
On Monday 29th June Sightsavers Pakistan is launching a petition calling for the United Nations to meet the needs of people with disabilities who are facing the worst effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The global petition is supported by Community Based Inclusive Development Network who are the largest disability network of Pakistan.
The lives of people with disabilities are being put at greater risk due to a lack of action from governments around the world to meet their needs during the pandemic, according to campaigners.
The petition is part of Sightsavers’ Equal World campaign, which seeks to amplify the voices of people with disabilities and highlight the denial of rights that they face globally.
Asim Zafar, Coordinator CBID Network Pakistan said: “Even under normal circumstances, persons with disabilities are less likely to access health care, education, employment and to participate in the community. They are more likely to live in poverty, experience higher rates of violence, neglect, and abuse, and are among the most marginalized in any crisis-affected community. COVID-19 has further compounded this situation, disproportionately impacting persons with disabilities both directly and indirectly”.
Sightsavers’ Pakistan Country Director, Syeda Munazza Gillani said: “The discrimination people with disabilities are reporting includes being deprioritised to receive health care; not being given vital information in accessible formats; denial of essential personal support; increased risk of contracting COVID-19 in institutions and barriers for women and girls who wish to claim their sexual and reproductive health rights”.
Abia Akram Chairperson of the National Forum of Women with Disabilities Pakistan said: “COVID – 19 has exacerbated discrimination and exposed existing inequalities for people with disabilities, particularly for women and girls with disabilities”.
For example, here in Pakistan we are seeing, that persons with severe disabilities who require home-based (and) attendant care are more at risk of contracting/getting/attaining infection Due to ongoing discrimination all over the world we see that when a disaster like COVID strikes, we are the hardest hit and the least supported.”
Natasha Kennedy, Sightsavers’ Campaign Manager of Equal World said: “The disability rights movement is in a strong position to influence the UN right now. Its new Disability Rights framework could ensure the needs of people with disabilities are recognised and met across the entire UN system, including within its emergency health responses.
“We need the UN and member states to step-up their efforts to make this happen. This cannot be put on the backburner. We are in an international crisis and there are up to 1 billion people with disabilities who are trying to survive without the recognition or support they need.”
Equal World will collect petition signatures until Wednesday 15th July 2020.
To sign the Equal World petition visit www.sightsavers.org/equalworld
For further details, interviews, photos and case studies contact Itfaq Khaliq Khan, Programme Manager at Sightsavers Pakistan Country Office on firstname.lastname@example.org
About Equal World
Sightsavers campaign Equal World calls on the United Nations and member states to improve the lives of people with disabilities around the world by promoting disability rights and inclusion throughout its work.
The charity has campaigned for disability-inclusive global development since 2013, and in that time has seen significant recognition of disability as a priority issue.
For more information visit: www.sightsavers.org/equalworld
Sightsavers’ vision is of a world where people with disabilities participate equally in society. Sightsavers is an international organisation that works in more than 30 developing countries to prevent avoidable blindness, treat and eliminate neglected tropical disease, and promote the rights of people with disabilities.
In the seven decades since its foundation, Sightsavers has in 30 countries of South Asia and Africa:
Supported more than 1.2 BILLION treatments for neglected tropical diseases Carried out more than 7.7 million cataract operations to restore sight Carried out more than 196 million eye examinations
Dispensed more than 4.6 million glasses In Pakistan, Sightsavers started working in 1985, and the Country Office was established in December 1998. We have significant experience in the fields of inclusive education, social inclusion and eye health. Our work is guided by the principle of inclusive and equitable lifelong learning opportunities for all.