Know Your Rights Webinar Series aims to build larger awareness about disability rights & advocacy
The Javed Abidi Foundation in partnership with Disability Rights India Foundation and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative will hold a series of weekly webinars starting today. NewzHook will be a media partner of the webinars which will held over the next eight weeks. The aim is to engage youth leaders, students and experts across India and create greater awareness about disability rights and look at ways to mainstream this in their respective areas of work.
What do disability rights mean to you?
How do we mainstream disability?
What is the meaning of ‘nothing about us without us’ ?
Critical questions that will form the bedrock of the Know Your Rights Webinar Series. This is a weekly series of eight webinars that start off today. They aim to draw a spectrum of people, disabled and non-disabled, from across India.
The event is being organised by the Javed Abidi Foundation (JAF) in partnership with Disability Rights India Foundation (DRIF) and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI). NewzHook is a media partner of the series.
Poor awareness regarding RPWD Act on the ground
The webinars are an unscripted response to the sudden lockdown following the coronavirus pandemic, says Shameer Rishad, Convenor, JAF and nephew of Javed Abidi, the late disability rights leader.
In 2019, JAF, DRIF and CHRI organised four workshops in different parts of India, in an attempt to understand the ground realities of the disabled community. Two more workshops were planned between March and June this year but got postponed after the coronavirus pandemic,
Skill and capacity-building apart, Shameer wants to improve his understanding of disability-related issues. During the workshops he organised group discussions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act and ways to use the Right to Information (RTI) Act effectively to do evidence-based advocacy. Apart from NGO heads and experts, he found that persons with disabilities and their families had no idea of their rights. An impression that was reinforced when he traveled to colleges and universities in and around Delhi.
Barring a few students, sometimes it was none who knew about the law or the man (Javed Abidi) who worked tirelessly to advocate for its passage!! Some students with disabilities at reputed colleges did not even know about the PWD Act of 1995 or RPWD Act of 2016. Some even complained saying that ‘India is far behind other countries when it comes to the rights of persons with disabilities and nothing has been done for us’. – Shameer Rishad, Convenor, Javed Abidi Foundation
Webinars will be accessible with sign language interpreters
The webinars aims to address these gaps as well as find ways to mainstream disability in all areas of life.
“One aspect of the webinar series is to educate participants about the manner in which the RTI Act can help them demand greater transparency from public authorities”, says Venkatesh Nayak, CHRI. “During times of crisis this need becomes more acute. One part of the series will show the connect between the fundamental right to seek and obtain information from government agencies to demand effective implementation of the RPwD Act.”
A range of experts from different fields across India will speak at the webinars. Shameer sees this as a platform for connecting experts from the disability sector to students and others wanting to learn about disability.
The series, says Rama Krishnamachari, of the DRIF and Diversity and Equal Opportunity Centre, is open to disabled and non-disabled people.“It is open to everyone interested in learning about disability issues. We have particularly reached out to college students. Mr Abidi believed information is power and that the RPWD Act is a game change He also believed strongly that we should not sit quiet but work proactively on implementing the law through advocacy”.
The outcome, she hopes, would go beyond creating awareness about disability issues. “It should motivate people to take up disability inclusion work in whatever work they are doing and get them to join the network”.
Each session of the Know Your Rights Webinar Series will be from 7 pm to 8 pm. This is the schedule as of now:
- 11 April – Taking Stock of Disability Rights Advocacy in India & Steps Ahead.
- 17 April – Disability Perspective on Art & Poetry as Tools of Advocacy.
- 24 April – Data & Disability.
- 1 May – The Role of Youth as Key Stakeholders.
- 8 May – Political Participation & Accessible Elections.
- 15 May – The Meaning of Accessibility: Then and Now.
- 22 May – Using Media & Social Media to do Effective Advocacy.
- 29 May – Grassroots Perspective on Disability Rights.
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