ISLAMABAD  - The biggest challenge still appears to be a lack of realisation on the part of policymakers and stakeholders to ensure Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) get access to decent employment. And this ignorance on the part of policymakers and stakeholders then becomes hurdles and keep them excluded from the world of work.

The series of seminar to create better realisation among policymakers and stakeholders to promote implementation of ratified ILO Convention 159 Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled People) and help mobilise demands for provincial policies and programmes to empower PWDs and help them access decent employment.

The demand came at a seminar organised by Health, Education, Rehabilitation and Awareness Trust (HERA Trust) in collaboration with International Labour Organisation (ILO) at Al-Farabi Special Education Complex, Islamabad on Friday.

Farhat Abbas, President HERA Trust, in his speech said despite the national policy and National Plan of Action for persons with disability there are various challenges that have hindered progress on its implementation.

According to the 1998 census data, the persons with disabilities constituted 2.49 per cent (3.3 million) of the overall population in Pakistan. And according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Policy on the Employment of Persons with disabilities released on 28 May 2010, disabled persons constitutes 10 per cent of the world population.

Abbas said after the 18th constitutional amendment now each of the four provinces needs to develop their respective policies and plan of action and necessary programmes for persons with disabilities.

Prof. Dr Saeeda Iqbal, Senator, said development sector can assist the government to meet the hurdles and identification of actual problems so that PWDs can be brought into main stream of life.

She said general perception in Pakistan is that NGOs are not doing as much as they could do with the available resources especially local NGOs funded by donor agencies. The misuse of funds is being observed and reported since many years.

Director General Special Education Ghayoor Sultana said in Pakistan  persons with disabilities are living their lives as a marginalised community. In this connection private sector especially donor agencies could do a lot.

She appreciated the efforts made by international non-governmental organisations and said there still exist a lot of space to do tremendous work for the welfare of PWDs. The seminar was attended by Arlando, UNICEF representative, Zarrar Kahn UN-RC office, Dr Imam Yar Baig, Sightsavers International, Rabbia Razzaq, ILO Project Manager and WHO representative Dr Mariam Malick.