(Originally published by Sightsavers)

On December 5, to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the National OPD Advisory Committee (NOAC) members, an organization of persons with disabilities (OPD) led advisory body under the Inclusion Works (IW) programme undertook coordinated advocacy activities across the five programme districts of Chattogram, Dhaka, Gazipur, Khulna and Narsingdi.

The OPDs organized  a set of consultation meetings on the Realization of GDS 2018 Commitments made by the Bangladesh government. Later the OPD members formed a human chain to draw attention to their demands for full and proper implementation of GDS 2018 commitments. These activities were funded by ADD International, Equity International and Sightsavers. Approximately 15 government officials and 150 persons with disabilities and OPD representatives attended the events. News reports are available here.

It is also worth noting that a significant number of women with disabilities and representatives from underrepresented groups, including persons with Down syndrome, persons with Deafblindness and deaf persons actively participated in the campaign, from event design and procurement to implementation. Many of them delivered speeches, presented keynote papers and moderated discussions. Over the last month, NOAC members and Inclusion Works partners had a series of preparatory meetings and the entire programme was designed through a consultative process.

NOAC selected one member in each district as the District Event Coordinator (DEC). The DEC worked closely with other OPDs in their districts. In consultation with IW partners, the NOAC produced eleven documents including guideline for the DEC, Keynote for the consultation meetings, memorandum for the human chain, event report writing format, press release format, event schedule, sign-in sheet, sample letters seeking permission of police to hold public assembly in open space, etc.

In the consultation meetings, persons with disabilities and government officials discussed the implementation status of the GDS 2018 commitments made by Bangladesh government, they also spoke about Second Global Disability Summit in 2022 and determined priorities of the disability movement at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic situation continues to be uncertain.

Key Outcomes

  • Through these IDPD21 events an excellent relationship has been established between OPDs in different districts which will strengthen the disability rights movement in all five districts.
  • A set of recommendations on the priorities for the Bangladeshi disability movement and recommendations for the GDS2022 have been explored by OPDs working in urban and sub-urban areas of Bangladesh;
  • Government officials including Upazila (sub-district) and District Disability Rights and Protection Committees have been informed of challenges of persons with disabilities and priorities of the disability movement, and have been sensitized about their roles and responsibilities as to ensuring rights of persons with disabilities;
  • NOAC is creating a space for itself as an advocacy agent which will be helpful for local OPD leaders to advocate with local duty bearers including government officials.