Mobilizing District Committee Members
12. Pressure committee members to hold quarterly meetings
Although the Persons with Disabilities Rights and Protection Act, 2013 (DRPA) clearly requires district committees to meet four times per year, it may be that Deputy Commissioners or other committee members choose not to do so, in violation of the law. Private meetings with prominent committee members may be difficult to schedule or insufficient to motivate members to meet. Or committee members may hold short, pro forma meetings that do not cover the full range of a district committee’s responsiblities.
On these occasions, DPOs should consider holding public events to pressure committee members to fulfill their duties under the law. These events might include press conferences or human chains. The experience of USAID’s EPD program shows that public pressure on committee members can spur them to action, especially when DPOs join forces with mainstream human rights organizations and arrange for significant media coverage.
Prior to USAID's EPD program, the Dhaka district committee had not met once, despite teh DRPA's requirements. The committee's inactivity had greatly impeded the law’s implementation in Bangladesh’s capital city. After a year of advocating privately and unsuccessfully with Dhaka district committee members, SEID’s self-advocates, young men and women with intellectual disabilities, decided to make public their demands for the committee to meet. On January 15, 2020, SEID organized a human chain outside the National Museum in Dhaka’s Shahbag section (pictured above). On January 26th, due to SEID self-advocates’ pressure, the Dhaka district committee held its first-ever meeting. SEID self-advocates participated at this historic meeting of the Dhaka committee, presided over by Dhaka's Additional Deputy Commissioner, and educated the committee members about their duties under the law.
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This domain was previously home to a joint report by NGDO, NCDW, and BLAST entitled “Current Status of Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Bangladesh: Legal and Grassroots Perspectives 2015,” produced with funding from the Disability Rights Fund. It is now available here.