To raise awareness and to promote the inclusiveness of persons with disabilities, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities was celebrated in Thimphu yesterday.
The theme this year was “Promoting participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Agenda.”
Foreign Minister Dr Tandin Dorji said that equality is a core human rights principle and called on all to ensure that everyone must have equal access to participation and engagement, particularly people with disabilities.
“There is still much to be done and accomplished before persons with disabilities can realise their full potential as equal and valued members of the society,” Lyonpo said.
Organizations like Ability Bhutan Society, Phensem— a parent support group, National Environment Commission, Bhutan Paralympic Committee took part in the event.
The resident coordinator of UN Bhutan Gerald Daly said, “We are trying to raise the profile of supporting those that are disabled in our society and one of the greatest ways to do this is through an event like this.”
The day saw active participation from students of Wangsel Institute and Changangkha middle secondary school. Besides performing entertainment programs like skit, dancing and singing they also showcased skills like tailoring and painting at their stalls.
Lhakpa Dema, a mother of two said that by celebrating the day, people are becoming increasingly aware of those with disabilities and how to take care of them. “By dedicating the entire day to them, they feel important and happy, that’s what matters,” she said.
She also said that organising such an event ensures that people with disabilities get an opportunity to take part and get engaged in various activities, just like any other normal person.
Sangay Tshering from Trashigang walks with the help of clutches. The 22 year-old wants to learn painting. “I feel I can do something to sustain if I get some training.”
He said that he interested in singing and has sung at various events organised by the students of the Royal Institute of Health Sciences (RIHS). He is currently residing at the patient guesthouse.
Meanwhile, the National Policy for Persons with Disabilities 2019 was also launched to mark the day. The policy is expected to be a guideline to every sector, where they can look at how each sector can practice the inclusion of a disabled person in every aspect of development.
Gerald Daly said that the policy is a roadmap that is going to help the country support the international convention on disabilities.
Bhutan today has around 14,000 people with disabilities.
With a standing policy in place for people with disabilities, support will be provided in various sectors of building environment and public transport, economic security and Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) amongst others.
Organized by SELWA, the event took place at the Ecological Park.