NOWPDP organizes Stakeholder Conference on Accessible Transport

A conference on mainstreaming people with disabilities, which had a specific focus on accessible transport in Karachi, was organized by the Network of Organizations Working with People with Disabilities, Pakistan (NOWPDP) at the Old US Consulate to celebrate the culmination of their campaign “Inclusive Karachi for People with Disabilities” which is part of the “I am Karachi” initiative. The advocacy and awareness campaign demonstrated accessibility and inclusion in action, engaged and sensitized young audiences as well as the general public, and lobbied with relevant stakeholders regarding legislation related to people with disabilities.

The event was attended by members of different public and private organizations who discussed the need to have accessible transport in Karachi, as well as in the rest of the country, in order to enable people with disabilities to overcome the barriers of access and benefit from the different facilities, such as schools and hospitals, that have been built to benefit them. The speakers at the event included Wajiha Naqvi, a consortium member of I am Karachi; Ramiz Baig, Honorary Secretary Institute of Architects of Pakistan (IAP); Aaron Awasen, Director Administration at Family Education Services Foundation (FESF); Reem Khan, the founder of The Rickshaw Project; Omair Ahmad, Director of NOWPDP, and Amin Amir Andani, Project Officer of The Rickshaw Project.

Omair Ahmad started off by highlighting the different projects that NOWPDP has been undertaking as part of this campaign, including The Rickshaw Project which is aimed at creating advocacy for accessible transport, and heARTwork, which is aimed at empowering people with disabilities by promoting their craftsmanship.

Wajiha Naqvi provided an overview of the different projects undertaken to inculcate hope, pride and ownership in the citizens of Karachi to collectively strive for a peaceful and vibrant city. Moreover, Reem Khan suggested that all efforts to provide public facilities for the different sections of the society are futile unless people are able to access it. Hence, there was a dire need to have accessible transport.

Additionally, Ramiz Baig highlighted the need for making public buildings such as railway stations, schools, colleges, etc. accessible, so that people with disabilities could access them independently.  Aaron Awasen, meanwhile, pointed out the need to bring people with disabilities into the mainstream by providing them equal opportunities at the workplace. He suggested that over a hundred countries around the world provide licenses to the deaf however Pakistan is one of the few countries that doesn’t, hence denying them the opportunity to move around independently and also earn a living by working as drivers.

NOWPDP also set up interactive stalls for the attendees to learn more about its projects, and the impact that it is making in promoting the creation of an inclusive society which values and upholds the rights of people with disabilities through sustainable endeavors and a holistic approach driven by clear social objectives. The different steps of the screen printing and paper making processes, which are undertaken by people with disabilities working in heARTwork, were shown and the heARTwork ambassadors were available to brief the attendees about the process. Moreover, the end products of these processes, which included greeting cards, pillow covers, and table runners were put up for display as well. Additionally, a guerilla awareness campaign was also undertaken by the team of TRP, who briefed the attendees about the importance of accessible transport, especially for the people with disabilities, as well as the progress that the project has made in that regard.

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