Article 29 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) states that “States Parties shall guarantee to persons with disabilities political and public rights and the possibility of enjoying them on an equal basis with others. . “
Fifteen years after the drafting of the convention, the whole world has recently come out in favor of the inclusion and proportional representation of the population with disabilities. Nepal is one of the laggards.
According to the 2011 census, approximately 1.94% of the Nepalese population live with some form of disability. The preamble to the Nepalese Constitution of 2015 speaks of building “… an egalitarian society based on proportional, inclusive and participatory principles to ensure economic equality…” This means that, in each sector, two percent of the seats should be reserved for disabled people (disabled people).
But have we adhered to the provisions of our constitution and international treaties?
With politics at the center of everything, it is worth asking how inclusive this area is when it comes to people with disabilities. Not a lot, unfortunately.
In the federal parliament of Nepal, out of 275 deputies, only two are disabled, both from the CPN (Maoist Center). The Maoists thus provided relatively more seats for people with disabilities, but they also consider those injured in the armed rebellion to be people with disabilities. Chudamani Khadka, an MP disabled due to a gunshot wound he suffered during the insurgency, is a longtime personal assistant to President Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
Teknath Neupane, former chairman of Apangata Sangathan Nepal, a Maoist sister organization of people with disabilities, admits the party has given more priority to those who suffered injuries during the conflict than to those born with disabilities. The wounded cadres of the armed revolution who were ready to sacrifice their lives for the party deserve attention, he said. But, he adds, “they are now sufficiently recognized and the time has come to start treating all people with disabilities with the same standards. “
Party spokesman Narayan Kaji Shrestha admits that people with disabilities during the conflict rose through the ranks of political leadership faster than other people with disabilities.
A recent decision by the standing committee, ahead of the national party conference, made it mandatory for party units to select at least one disabled person as a convention delegate from each local level. “We are strengthening the party from the bottom up and ultimately everyone will find their rightful place in the leadership,” promises Shrestha.
In the National Assembly there are four disabled people – one from the Nepalese Congress and three from the Maoists. Likewise, the seven provincial parliaments in total have only one disabled person, all from Congress and Maoists. The CPN-UML and the other parties do not have a single such provincial legislator.
“There are 15 MPs who qualify as disabled people in the country. This number should have been enough to raise our issues in parliaments, but unfortunately only a few of them consider themselves disabled, ”says Bhojraj Shrestha, chairman of Rastriya Loktantrik Apanga Sangh, the sister wing of the Congress Nepali for people with disabilities.
Shrestha, along with 22 other members, formed the organization in 2006, but the party did not officially recognize it until 2009.
According to Jagadish Prasad Adhikari, general secretary of Loktantrik Rastriya Apanga Sangathan, a sister organization of CPN-UML, which was also the convention representative at the 10th UML General Convention: “My party did not address our issues. nor gave us seats on party committees. ”
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During the last general convention of the UML, not a single disabled person won a post at the head of a party. Of the 12 PWD delegates, five came from the sister wing quota. “We did not contest because the party asked us for a consensus and we respected the policy, but later we got ripped off,” he said.
Newly elected UML secretary Yogesh Bhattarai said there were no restrictions on standing for election. For him, inclusion is a new concept, and it takes time to adapt. “We are discussing separate seats for the disabled person on party committees,” he adds. But the UML recently published the list of the 30 members appointed to the central committee and again, not a single disabled person in the party got the nomination. According to Bhattarai, the party is still working to include them in addition to the central committee.
As the Maoist national conference quickly approaches, its wing PWD cadres are hoping for greater representation in the party. “Our party has shown the way, it is time to see how they implement the policies,” says Neupane.
Due to mismanagement, the Nepalese Congress was unable to hold its 16 district conventions, preventing many deserving party members from submitting nominations. The same happened with Shrestha from sister wing NC, as he was unable to compete for the positions. “Of the six people with disabilities who are running for a seat on the central committee, almost none considers themselves to be disabled or part of the disabled movement,” he adds with disappointment. “But I’m sure they will win.”
Debu Parajuli was informed by the Rastriya Prajatantra party that they do not have a quota for people with disabilities. She then applied for the post of central committee member in the open category, obtaining the sixth highest number of votes.
“People with disabilities can stand in front of anyone,” she says. “Quotas are necessary, but if you don’t fit, please enter the competition in the open category. That I have won means that I have conquered a “capable” person, ”Parajuli says.
The other problem is that the leaderships of political parties still do not consider the disabled person well enough to occupy important positions within the party. In addition, quotas for people with disabilities are often misused.
Mitra Lal Sharma
President, National Federation of the Disabled-Nepal (NFDN)
Our presence in decision making is a must
I find it pathetic when people think that our needs and aspirations should be limited to obtaining wheelchairs and other facilities suitable for people with disabilities. We don’t get leadership positions even when we have the right knowledge and skills.
Let’s go and compete. This is a challenge open to the leaders of the main political parties. If the people / team you are transporting can defeat us with your knowledge, ideology and skills, we’re okay not to be included, but what if we win? They need our vote and our taxes, but not our knowledge. Let me ask our political leaders: what is the qualification required to lead a large political party?
When there is a lack of our participation in policy making, the issues of people with disabilities cannot be addressed because other people do not know about our issues and even if they do, they often do not take it up. worth talking about. Our presence in decision-making is therefore essential.