‘Inclusive Nagaland depends on collective action’

International Day of Persons with Disabilities observed in Kohima

Morung Express News
Kohima | December 3

“Whether we can create an inclusive Nagaland that leaves no one behind depends on our collective action to address the inequalities that have existed for far too long,” said Nagaland State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Diethono Nakhro during the virtual observation of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3 in Kohima.

Organised by the office of the State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities (Department of Social Welfare), the International Day was commemorated under the global theme ‘Building Back Better: Toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 world.’

Speaking on the theme, Nakhro reminded how vulnerable communities like people with disabilities are always the worst affected in any kind of disaster “because of the many inequalities that exist even before disaster strikes.” Under normal circumstances, these inequalities include lack of access to quality healthcare, education, and employment and more often, PwDs are likely to live in poverty, and experience higher rates of violence, neglect and abuse, pushing them to the margins in any disaster situation.

“The global COVID-19 crisis that we’re still experiencing has aggravated all these pre-existing inequalities, and has highlighted that the work on disability inclusion must be accelerated. As we move towards recovery from the pandemic, this is more important than ever,” stated Nakhro.

While necessary laws such as the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 are in place, Nakhro asserted that laws are useless if they are not implemented. And therefore, the full and proper implementation of the Act has become more urgent now than ever. 

In Nagaland, the enforcement of the Act was prioritised even before the pandemic, where Nakhro mentioned that it has “certainly made some progress here in the State.” “But it is just the beginning and there is so much more that needs to be done - this post COVID period, as we start reopening and rebuilding our systems, this is the opportunity for us to strategise and start building back inclusively by ensuring all the provisions of the Act are enforced strictly and quickly,” said Nakhro.

In order to build back, Nakhro pointed out that “education is the key to social transformation and empowerment, and so accessible and inclusive education as laid down in the RPwD Act must be made a reality”.  Better access to quality healthcare, and employment were some priorities highlighted by the State Commissioner.

She further stated that disability inclusive disaster management, accessibility – not only in the physical environment but also accessible products and services, making social security schemes and programmes more inclusive and responsive to the needs of persons with disabilities, improved data, setting up teacher training centres, rehabilitation centres, and creating more disability awareness are measures which need to be taken up. 

“As we observe the International Day of Persons with Disabilities today, we are reminded of the work that lies ahead of us. I call on everyone to join hands in this mission - a collaborative spirit and approach among representative organisations of persons with disabilities, the government, civil society, and the private sector is very much needed to materialise the agenda of accessibility, equal opportunities and inclusion,” urged Nakhro.

In her message, Amenla Sashi, Secretary, Department of Social Welfare stated that promoting inclusion will mean recognizing and protecting the rights of PwDs. “We can all play a part in the inclusion process by supporting the many areas in which all government and private enterprises are facilitating change,” said Sashi citing the RPwDs Act 2016 as one such achievement. 

The Secretary also reminded that the State Government has framed and notified State rules for Persons with Disabilities with the Department of Social Welfare as the Nodal Department which implements and monitors pensions, scholarships, Unique Disability Id and ensuring accessibility for PwDs.

“Implementation in the health sectors, education, and appointments of disability related matters are underway,” informed Sashi who also lauded the measures taken by the State Commissioner to address concerns of the Persons with Disabilities in Nagaland during the COVID 19 pandemic.

Brief messages were also shared by Maong Longkumer and Khrieselhounuo Rüpreo.