Stakeholders called for Disability-Inclusive Parliament

Discussions in a policy breakfast meeting demanded that the Bangladesh parliament needs to develop process, policies and practices driven toward disability-inclusive development of the country.

Almost 7 per cent of Bangladesh’s citizens have disabilities and 76% of them reported not being able to participate in the whole process of any election, limiting their voices from reaching the Parliament. While Bangladesh’s constitution guarantees the basic human rights of every citizen of the country, Bangladesh is also committed through SDG to promote inclusive development through ensuring social, economic, and political inclusion for all, irrespective of any distinction including disability. Such inclusive development calls for a disability inclusive parliament.

The Policy Breakfast on ‘Disability Inclusive Parliament’ was held on 7th December 2022 at the Ballroom of Doreen Hotels and Resorts, Dhaka. The event was organized by the British Council, in partnership with the Institute of Informatics and Development (IID).

During the discussions, the participants demanded at least two seats to be reserved for persons with disabilities in the Parliament.   An immediate solution to this demand could be ensured by selecting women with disabilities for the 50 seats in the Parliament which have already been reserved for the women. The need for raising issues regarding persons with disabilities in the parliamentary sessions by the parliamentarians and reviewing existing laws and policies through a disability lens by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Social Welfare was also highlighted. While ensuring disability sensitivity of the national and local budgets, the projects across the ministries are required to consider the special needs of persons with disabilities.  Taking initiatives to bring politicians with disabilities into the mainstream can play a vital role in ensuring the representation of persons with disabilities in the Parliament. These initiatives can take many forms, such as creating funds and introducing internship programs in the Parliament for politicians living with disabilities.

Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of Bangladesh Advocate Md. Shamsul Haque Tuku MP was present at the event as the Chief Guest.  Parliamentarians including Ahsan Adelur Rahman MP, Aroma Dutta MP, Shamim Haider Patwary MP, and Tanvir Shakil Joy MP presented their views on this critical issue at the event. Among others, David Knox, Director-Programmes, British Council, Nasiruddin Yousuff Bacchu, Founder of Dhaka Theatre, Monsur Ahmed Chaudhury, Founder Trustee, Impact Foundation, along with representatives from MoSW, MoCA, Bangladesh Parliament Secretariat, development partners, civil society organizations, academia, and disability activists participated in the event. Syeed Ahamed, CEO of IID moderated the Policy Breakfast.

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