Youth & disability advocacy form focus of 4th Know Your Rights Webinar Series
What are the key qualities needed in the Gen Next disability rights leaders? This formed the focus of the fourth webinar in the Know Your Rights Webinar Series organised by the Javed Abidi Foundation, Disability Rights India Foundation and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. NewzHook is a media partner in the event.
How the personal shapes the political. That was the focus of disability rights advocate Nipun Malhotra’s talk in the fourth webinar hosted in the Know Your Rights Webinar Series.
The topic of this session was Youth Leadership for Advocacy and Nipun spoke about the barriers – environmental and attitudinal – faced while growing up with a congenital disability in Delhi.
Rights-vs charity-based approaches in disability advocacy
Challenges he was able to take head on thanks to his mother’s support. His most important life lesson? – “Learning social skills with able-bodied peers and citizens is important for persons with disabilities and a right”. Studying in a mainstream school helped shape Nipun’s journey to becoming an aware citizen, unafraid to voice his opinions and ask for his rights.
This is the larger change he seeks to bring about through his organisation Nipman Foundation.
Disability as a field in India has very few advocacy organisations and a handful are looking at rights-based approach while working for and with persons with disabilities. Many existing organisations are working only with charity-based perspective. – Nipun Malhotra, Co-founder, Nipman Foundation
Nipman Foundation works on diverse areas like employment, transport, and larger sensitisation. Workshops are held regularly in schools and colleges as “articulation is very important for every person with disability”, emphasises Nipun. “That is to self-articulate the myths, taboos, and rights to de-stigmatise disability and stop discrimination”.
Tools of disability advocacy
The effectiveness of social media as a tool to articulate these challenges came up as well as did the use of RTIs and PILs.
“All you need to do is pick one issue and stick with it”, said Shameer Rishad, Convenor Javed Abidi Foundation (JAF). JAF along with Disability Rights India Foundation and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative is organising the webinars. “Create awareness, write letters, consistently follow-up and continue to get better at what you do by learning new skills!”.
Above all, stay committed and persist to make a change.
Present in the audience was emerging youth leader and Delhi University student Pratishtha Deveshwar. Pratishtha feels the youth must get involved as they have a major stake in creating a better future.
“We have our skin in the game! So, it is the need of the hour to leave the harbour that keeps our boat safe and dive into the stormy waters to dispel the wrongs and forge the right. Every young person today is a lantern in the dark. And we all together can light up the world!”
Mohammed Kaish, a research scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University, says that change must happen collectively to be effective. ” We need to work with other young people and organisations to collectively raise the voice to bring about change”.
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