UN agencies, Sightsavers, and organisations of people with disabilities (OPDs) gathered on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) in Dhaka on Saturday.
The event was celebrated with the theme "United in action to rescue and achieve the SDGs for, with and by persons with disabilities,” read a press release.
People with disabilities and representatives from various disability organisations brought attention to crucial areas, including the revitalization of disability committees, increased budget allocation for the National Action Plan on Disability, the appointment of disability focal points, enhancement of disability allowances, monitoring and accountability of government disability activities, and consultation of organisations of OPDs in the development process.
The collaboration between UN agencies, Sightsavers, and disability organisations underscored a unified commitment to advancing the rights, inclusion, and well-being of persons with disabilities in Bangladesh and globally. The event catalysed renewed efforts and partnerships to achieve the ambitious goals outlined in the theme "United in action to rescue and achieve the SDGs for, with and by persons with disabilities.”
Md Akhter Hossain, Principal Coordinator (SDG Affairs) at the Prime Minister’s Office, was the chief guest for the event, while Zuena Aziz, former Principal Coordinator (SDG Affairs) at the Prime Minister’s Office, was the special guest.
Sightsavers Country Director, Amrita Rejina Rozario, inaugurated the programme, emphasising the necessity of a collaborative approach to advance disability rights and inclusion in Bangladesh.
UN officials attended as Guests of Honour and shared their perspectives on the promotion of disability rights globally and in Bangladesh. The esteemed speakers included Gwyn Lewis, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh, Tuomo Poutiainen, ILO- Country Director in Bangladesh, Gitanjali Singh, Country Representative, UN Women, Anowarul Haq, Assistant Resident Representative, UNDP (virtually present), and Natalie McCauley, Chief of Child Protection, UNICEF.
The UN representatives collectively highlighted the imperative for increased efforts to promote disability rights, calling for a stronger commitment to inclusivity.
The event featured two-panel discussions covering various thematic areas, and a journalists' forum on disability was introduced, providing a platform for media engagement and awareness.
Addressing the programme as the Chief Guest, Akhter Hossain emphasised the need for stronger alignment between national Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicators and disability inclusion.
The event, chaired by Khandaker Jahurul Alam, Executive Director of the Centre for Services and Information on Disability, featured keynotes from Aminul Arifeen from UNDP and Ayon Debnath for Sightsavers. Both stressed the urgency of reinforcing the implementation of the Rights and Protection of Persons with Disabilities, even a decade after its enactment.