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Securing Disability Rights: Work in Progress
Syed Mohammad Afsar

There are at least one billion people with disabilities across the globe and around 785 million are in the working age. According to the global data from the World Health Survey, only one-in-two disabled men and one-in-five disabled women is employed. Persons with disability face barriers in accessing, advancing and also remaining in employment due to factors such as the physical environment at the workplace or the manner in which work is organised. Most of these hindrances can be dealt with by offering what is called ‘reasonable accommodation’ - it may mean undertaking something as simple as replacing steps with a ramp in order to facilitate access by wheelchair users or improving the work environment by taking measures that transform discriminatory attitudes. The latest International Labour Organisation (ILO) guide, Promoting Diversity and Inclusion through Workplace Adjustments, enumerates how employers can provide reasonable accommodation at all stages of the employment, starting from designing and advertising a vacancy, the recruitment phase, during employment as well as in the context of return to work.

While the 2006 United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities happens to be the key instrument, the 2030 agenda for sustainable development has effectively mainstreamed the issue of disability.

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‘Life in the insurgent’s den was unbearable’

She was not even 16. Boko Haram rebels abducted Hussaina Dahiru from her home in the Madagali area of Adamawa State, Nigeria, in May 2015. Dahiru, along with 13 other girls were taken to the Sambisa Forest and forcibly married off to one of the insurgents, who already had three other wives. Soon after, she became pregnant. In February 2016, heavily pregnant and unable to bear the daily terror and hunger, Dahiru took a chance and managed to escape. She ran through the night and at daybreak, a soldier found her on the Midu road in Madagali and helped her find refuge. Dahiru, unfortunately, is no more today – she died during childbirth. More than 2,000 girls and women have been abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria. The international community continues to advocate for their safe return. But after the girls are back, what happens to them? What happens to the children of rape and their young mothers? Dahiru’s tragic story trains the spotlight on the plight of women and girls caught in conflict, especially as the world marks the global 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.

“If your husband did not go for operation, you would not be given food.”

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The Begum Is 100 And Going Strong
Kulsum Mustafa

Petite, graceful, confident, determined, tireless, exuding and old world charm… there are many words that can be used to describe the charming Begum Hamida Habibullah, who has just turned 100! Going down memory lane with her at her ancestral home in the sprawling Habibullah Estate, a landmark in the nawabi city of Lucknow, turned out to be an unforgettable experience. Sipping tea, surrounded by her loving family and her pet dog, she looked the quintessential matriarch truly satisfied with her life. Indeed, her manicured hands, perfectly styled hairdo, the elegant pearl jewellary and hospitality… everything seemed so much in sync. As the conversation stretched over two hours, she displayed no signs of fatigue and, in fact, it was not always easy to keep pace with her thoughts as she spoke of a distant past, describing in details things that are now only a part of history. An attentive hostess – from Khrushchev to Mao Zedong to the Mountbattens, she’s welcomed the who’s who of society and polity – a committed educationist and parliamentarian, Begum Habibullah has done it all. A matchless centurion who is still going strong.

“My mother-in-law [Inam Habibullah] was passionate about girls’ education and she supported me in pursuing my studies. I carry forward her great work in the field of education and the uplift of women.”

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There’s Nothing To Be Ashamed About Disability
Book Excerpt

A person without disability automatically assumes that a disabled person wants to be cured. As if there is a cure for disability. Is there a cure for disability? For the disabled persons who are proud of who they are, for whom their identity as disabled has been an important part of making meaning about themselves and the people and the world they have known, the refusal of ‘cure’ can be the response to this societal quest of ‘treating’ disabled people. Like all children, when Malini Chib, disability rights activist and author, who has cerebral palsy, was growing up, she too forced herself to be as normal as possible and adapt to the normal world, where she had to be fixed to fit. Till one day she realised that living in denial of her difference needn’t be her only option. To mark the International Day of People with Disability (December 3) we bring the inspiring account of Chib, who shares her experiences and observations as she got around to developing a strong disability identity that she wants to “celebrate” rather than reject. An excerpt from ‘Disability, Gender and the Trajectories of Power’, edited by Asha Hans and published by Sage Publications.

‘I am a disabled, heterosexual, and an Asian upper-middle-class woman. My disability is only one part of my identity, yet sadly, that is the only part that the society decides to see, or even acknowledge.’

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Sophie’s Choice: Telling Stories On The Big Screen
Surekha Kadapa-Bose

Think women and Hindi cinema and almost immediately the image of a glamorous female actor pops into the head. Technical positions have largely been a male domain and, over the decades, only a select few women have been able to establish themselves behind the scenes. Sophie Winqvist Loggins is one of the handful of female professionals, who has not just made a name for herself as a Director of Photography but this Swedish woman has also overcome the cultural differences that challenged her when she first started working in the Hindi film industry. As a foreigner, a woman and a creative professional, she has had diverse experiences as she worked towards claiming her place behind the camera but she has had a good time telling stories to an Indian audience. As she sees it, Bollywood is “finally taking chances and making movies that are exciting”.

‘Even today there are tonnes of biases against women DoPs. You have to prove yourself more. But then there’s also curiosity, kindness and less of the alpha battle. Good work shines through and your talent is your only true basis for negotiations.’

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 WFS Ref: INDPB24 880 words
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