Expanding Choices through a Participatory Approach Developing the National Strategy for Persons with Disabilities
The National Strategy for Persons with Disabilities for the Kingdom of Bahrain was developed to improve the promotion and protection of human rights of persons with disabilities. The Strategy provides guidance to government sectors, NGOs, the private sector, professional groups, educators, advocates, and society at large, on the tasks required in order to ensure that the human rights of persons with disabilities are effectively observed and realized.
This joint project between UNDP and the Ministry of Social Development could not have been realized with the involvement of so many others. Using a participatory approach, each step of the development of the Strategy included the involvement and contribution of persons with disabilities. It includes the points of view of government institutions, line ministries, international organizations, national and international experts, the Bahrain Union for Persons with Disabilities and nearly every NGO working on disability issues in Bahrain.
The Strategy commits society to moving forward in a way that guarantees that persons with disabilities are treated with dignity and respect and recognizes fully their place in society. Compliance of the Strategy with the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities ratified by Bahrain on August 22, 2011 was a very important step in strengthening the rights of persons living with disabilities. It adopts a human rights and development approach to disability which focuses on the removal of barriers to equal participation and the elimination of discrimination based on disability.
Drafting the strategy takes note of the current situation with its strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities in order to make sure it responds to all concerns, and builds on the successful implementation achieved.
The initial steps in developing the Strategy were to update the existing information on persons with disabilities within Bahrain and conduct an analysis on the data collected. It compiles statistics and disaggregated data, including for age and gender. This information serves as a baseline report from which national consultations can proceed. Accordingly, a Strategy was drafted with a corresponding Action Plan.
Particular focus is given to women with disabilities which data show are often overlooked within services and programmes. They are less likely to be in paid work that other women, men with disabilities, to the population as a whole. Negative stereotypes compound their exclusion from support services, social and economic opportunities, and participation in community life. Therefore, ensuring the gender sensitivity of the Strategy activities addressing the needs of women with disabilities
An understanding of disability as a human rights and development issue leads to a recognition and acknowledgement that persons with disabilities are equal citizens and should therefore enjoy equal rights and responsibilities. The Strategy commits society to moving forward in a way that guarantees that persons with disabilities are treated with dignity and respect and recognizes fully their place in society. . It acknowledges responsibility rtowards the promotion of quality of life of persons with disabilities and the creation of an environment that can encourage their full participation in the country’s social and economic development.
The aim is to provide a vision for the future and serve as reference documents for policy makers, professionals and practitioners working with and for children and persons with disabilities and for parents, children and persons with disabilities themselves.
Joint efforts of government institutions, civil society, academic institutions, media outlets and the private sector are necessary for the successful implementation of this national initiative. It will be the key that moves the Strategy from ideas to a changed reality for the people living with disabilities as well as their families, colleagues and friends.