Disabled women’s rights to the fore
The Sunday Times
Sunday March 10, 2019
“Disabled women’s rights to the fore”
HRC organizes ‘Mainstreaming Women with Disabilities for a Dignified Life’ on March 8, International Women’s Day
By Kumudini Hettiarachchi
It was the irony of ironies!
Friday, International Women’s Day, saw people from all over the country gathering for a crucial half-day session on the theme ‘Mainstreaming Women with Disabilities for a Dignified Life’ organized by the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL), under the dynamic leadership of Chairperson Dr. Deepika Udagama at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute (SLFI), Colombo 7.
“As I drove into the SLFI, I saw a parking spot marked for the disabled. But when I wanted to park there, I was told that it was for a ‘Stores’ vehicle,” said Chief Guest Dr. Shashika Jayalath revealing the day-to-day reality of what is faced by all those living with disabilities in Sri Lanka.
Dr. Jayalath, having overcome numerous challenges thrown at her due to her physical disability, is serving the people at the Panadura Base Hospital.
The organization of this important session by the HRCSL, however, was very commendable. Abandoning the stage which has to be ‘accessed’ by several steps, at center-stage of the auditorium seated in a large rectangle were all those special people…….taking their rightful place in society, not seeking sympathy but empathy to discuss what their rights are.
Heartwarming was the fact that even though it was an event to do with women, with a pink banner highlighting the theme, there were men too, as both women and men are equal partners.
It was a fantastic sight to behold…….wheelchairs drawn up to the table, crutches leaning against the table, people sporting dark glasses seated with white canes before them on the table, a sign language ‘speaker’ before a group and many more…….and the auditorium was full. All the three languages, Sinhala, Tamil and English, were used.