BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health (JPGSPH), BRAC University has organized a Policy Dialogue Workshop on Promoting SRHR of persons with disabilities in Bangladesh in the context of SDGs and UNCRPD on the 23rd of November, 2020. Ms. Zuena Aziz, Senior Secretary and Principal Coordinator, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Affairs, Prime Minister’s Office, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, attended the policy dialogue as Chief Guest. Dr. Veronika Fleger, First Secretary Human Rights, Humanitarian Affairs and Gender, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Bangladesh attended the event as Special Guest. Dr. Sabina Faiz Rashid, Dean and Professor, BRAC JPGSPH, BRAC University inaugurated the policy dialogue with a welcome speech. The welcome speech was followed by Dr. Md Tanvir Hasan, Principal Investigator of the research project andAssociate Professor, BRAC JPGSPH discussing the objectives of the dialogue. The objectives of the policy dialogue were to share some of the findings from a nationwide research project conducted by BRAC JPGSPH, BRAC University on the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of persons with disabilities in Bangladesh, discuss the policy implications of the study findings and receive feedback from diverse stakeholders (both from the government and non-government originations) on what can be done to improve the SRHR situation of persons with disabilities in the country. The study was funded by the Royal Embassy of Kingdom of Netherlands, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Ms. Fatema Akter Bonny, Senior Research Associate, BRAC JPGSPH, BRAC University shared the study findings, which were then followed by a discussion on this topic by the discussants, Dr. A M Pervez Rahim, Chief Coordinator (Joint Secretary), Autsim and Neuro-developmental Disability (NDD) Cell, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Dr. Ashrafi Ahmad (Joint Secretary) Program Director, Disability Detection Survey Program and National Program Director, CSPB Phase-2, Department of Social Services, Ministry of Social Welfare, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and Ms. Mohua Pal, Co-founder, Access Bangladesh Foundation. The discussions that were held during the event focused on linking findings from the study about the situation of SRHR of persons with disabilities in Bangladesh with the commitments Bangladesh has towards achieving the SDGs and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).Dr. Ashrafi Ahmad in her address stated “Sexual and reproductive health, this is a right. We should not have to be here to discuss why it should be there, what can be done. It is a right for every person on earth to enjoy with all the knowledge”. Dr. A M Pervez Rahimin his speech highlighted several initiatives the government has undertaken for persons with disabilities, including groups such as women and girls with disabilities whom he recognized as being especially vulnerable to violence. Ms. Mohua Pal brought up several case story examples of adolescents and others with neuro-developmental disabilities to highlight the sufferings they face as they enter adolescence, and mentioned the SRHR of this group of people as a “missing agenda” that must be addressed. Dr. Veronika Fleger stated “Bangladesh has ratified the UNCRPDs in 2007 and we know that is the country is committed to achieving all the SDGs. Three of the SDG goals have direct reference to sexual and reproductive health and rights, and 5 SDG’s explicitly refer to disability”. Ms. Zuena Aziz stated that he core value of “leave no one behind” was incorporated in the constitution of Bangladesh, which gives equal rights and dignity to each and every citizen. Without bringing the persons with disabilities into the mainstream, the SDGs cannot be achieved.
K A M Morshed, Senior Director, Advocacy, Technology and Partnership, BRAC delivered closing remarks in the workshop. He echoed the words of the Prime Minister and the importance of creating a caring society (দরদীসমাজ), and opined that this will not be possible until we learn to be empathetic to persons with disabilities. The research team expects this policy dialogue to contribute as a stepping stone in drafting important policy briefs which will then be proposed to the relevant authorities, e. g., Ministry of Social Welfare and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
Policy Dialogue Workshop- BRAC James P Grant, School of Public Health, BRAC University 23rd November, 2020, 3:00 PM-5:00 PM.,a press realese said.