LAHORE: More than 300 disabled women from grass-root level have acquired leadership training on inclusive development through the formation of self-help groups and awareness advocacy programme, which has helped them to become an integral part of Pakistan’s social fabric through active community participation.
The programme has been carried out by Society for Special Persons (SSP), founded by Ms. Zahida Qureshi, which is actively working for the rights of disabled persons. The Society has partnered with Philip Morris (Pakistan) Limited (PMPKL) for this project. The initiative is one of the several initiatives undertaken by PMPKL to promote women empowerment as part of its sustainability agenda. The programme has been successfully carried out in the 10 districts of South Punjab including Multan, Muzaffargarh, Layyah, Lodhran, DG Khan, Vehari, Sahiwal, Rajanpur, Khanewal and Bahawalpur, said a spokesman here on Friday.
Speaking on the occasion of launching ceremony of these self-help groups, the chief guest Bilal Ahmed Butt, Commissioner Multan appreciated the initiative and said, “We all need to make a collective effort to promote the wellbeing of special persons as they have full potential to accomplish great milestones for Pakistan globally. The government is committed to supporting these self-help groups at all levels.”
Dr Izharul Haq, Director Programme at Punjab Welfare Trust commented, “These women with disabilities should not feel left out to become a marginalized segment of the society. This requires practical policies for enhanced inclusion of women with disabilities in the society.” As part of the project, Society for Special Persons reached out to more than 1,000 households to form self-help groups and cover the gap between women with disabilities and community, and create awareness about their rights. These women were also facilitated for completion of legal documentation, including CNIC, disability certificates, financial aid and travel discount cards.
Ten customized wheelchairs and gifts were also distributed among special persons at the well-organized self-help groups launching ceremony. The ceremony was attended by representatives of NADRA, Multan Chamber of commerce and Industry, Violence Against Women Centre, Special Education Department, State Bank of Pakistan, Akhuwat, Labour Department, and a large number of women with disabilities, media, and civil society.
The women who have benefited from the programme feel they are no longer thought of as a burden on the family and are now socially mobile, with the ability to financially support themselves and even their family members.