Yangyel Lhaden

The issue of inaccessible structures hindering the mobility of individuals with disabilities was discussed at the International Day of Persons with Disabilities event held yesterday.

A Consultant with UNDP, Phurpa Wangchuk, who uses a wheelchair, faced the absence of a ramp, preventing him from accessing the stage. He shared his experiences from the corner near the stage, speaking from the ground.

Civil society organisations constructed a temporary wooden ramp at the entrance of the conference hall before the event to facilitate easy access for individuals using wheelchairs.

Buildings in the country lack mobility facilities for the disabled

Yangchen Tshomo, a parent of a child with a disability (CWD), carried her 11-year-old son on her back, citing difficulties in taking him places due to unfriendly infrastructure.

Phurpa Wangchuk highlighted the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities in everyday tasks such as going to work or attending school without accessible infrastructures.

“This day serves as a powerful reminder of our collective responsibility to promote the rights and well-being of individuals with disabilities, fostering a world that is inclusive, accessible, and equitable for all,” said Phurpa Wangchuk.

In October, the parliament ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), promoting principles such as respect for inherent dignity, inclusivity, non-discrimination, and full participation in society.

The responsibility of implementing CRPD for PWDs falls on the Planning and Policy Division under the Prime Minister’s Office.

“Inclusivity is about breaking down the walls of prejudices and fostering a society that embraces diversity,” Phurpa Wangchuk said.

Chimi Om, a parent and co-founder of Phensem, a parent support group for CWDs, emphasised the significance of caregivers advocating for the rights of CWDs.

The Executive Director of the Disabled Peoples’ Organisation of Bhutan, Kinley Wangchuk, highlighted the importance of education among people living with disabilities.

“There are 15,567 PWDs in Bhutan, according to the Population and Housing Census of Bhutan 2017, with 80 percent residing in rural areas,” the report stated.

This year’s theme for the day is united in action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for, with, and by PWDs.