Department of Sociology, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar in collaboration with the National Commission for Women, New Delhi organized a one day National Seminar on ‘Breaking Barriers, Facilitating Access- Ensuring Equal Rights for the Differently Abled Women’ at Sri Guru Granth Sahib Bhawan of the Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, today.
The seminar funded by the National Commission for Women, New Delhi aimed to examine within the human rights approach the intersectionality of gender and disability and sensitize the participants regarding the inclusive practices with regard to access and empowerment of the DAW.
The seminar saw a gracious presence of dignitaries- Dr Baljit Kaur, Cabinet Minister : Ministry of Social Justice, Empowerment and Minorities, Department of Social Security and Development of Women and Children (Govt. of Punjab)as the Chief Guest who chaired the inaugural session along with the Guest of Honour Prof (Dr.) Jaspal Singh Sandhu, Vice Chancellor of the Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, and the Keynote Speaker- Prof Nilika Mehrotra (Sociologist) from the Centre for the Study of Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
Honourable Vice Chancellor Prof. (Dr.) Jaspal Singh Sandhu in his inaugural address said that the university need to discuss issues such as disability and other social issues. He congratulated the organizers for organizing an insightful and important seminar organized in collaboration with NCW, Delhi. He also highlighted the significant contribution of GNDU as a university in success of higher education.
Chief Guest, Dr. Baljit Kaur, Cabinet Minister in her opening remarks highlighted the role of government,NGOs and University in the sensitization process towards disability people.
She also highlighted the role of education in fighting with social stigma.Further, Prof Nilika Mehrotra in her Keynote Address emphasised on conceptualization of Disability studies where she also emphasised on the gender dimensions of disability.
She also incorporated the discriminated groups such as LGBT and their concerns. She talked about the inter-sectionalities ofmental health issues, caste, gender and social prejudice in the marginalization of differently abled people.
She added that issues of disabled persons can’t be solved through medical approach alone, rather they are equally social issues in a country like India.
The Head of Sociology Department Prof Rajesh Kumar welcomed the chief guests and the participants of the seminar. The theme of the seminar was discussed by the Convenor of this Seminar-Dr Rachana Sharma, Department of Sociology, GNDU.
The seminar had two technical sessions and witnessed the attendance of dignified representatives from different parts of the country-Prof Sujatha Bhan (SNDT University, Mumbai) and Ms Shampa Sengupta (Founder of Sruti Disability Rights Centre, Kolkatta and Joint Secretary, National Platform for Rights of the Disabled) and Mr Amarjit Singh Anand, (Member Juvenile Justice Board, Jalandhar and National Disability Social Activist) who have years of experience in Disability Issues and Social Policy. Both speakers suggested the role of social security and advocacy in the empowerment of the rights of disability.
The eminent resource persons focussed on the nexus between disability, violence and gender-based inequalities. The National Seminar saw participation of the Faculty, Research Scholarsand Students from various universities and colleges from states such as Punjab, Chandigarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala etc.
Some International Students from GNDU and other universities also participated in the seminar.The speakers also emphasised upon creating accessible equitable learning environment for DAW in the higher education.
They also spotlighted the obligation of the government and policy makers to promote and safeguard the inalienable rights of the differently abled populations, especially the women and the need to incorporate ‘disability’ into all the future development efforts. The speakers also responded to a range of comments and questions raised by the participants.
Dr Satnam Singh, Head of the Department of Political Science, GNDU and Prof Bhup Singh Gaur, Head of the Department of Sociology, GDC, Gurugram chaired technical sessions that aimed at spreading awareness about the Challenges and Rights of the Differently abled women in India.
Guru Nanak Dev University is committed to following the best practices on inclusion of diverse population including those with disabilities in higher education settings.
In this regard, a brief presentation was made by Dr Sunil Kumar-Nodal Officer-Equal Opportunity Cell, GNDU to inform the participants of efforts taken up by GNDU for ensuring Diversity & Inclusion of the marginalized populations in the higher education setting by following a holistic‘Disability Inclusion Action Plan’. After the end of the technical sessions, Stuti Tandon and Randhir Gautam presented the report before the audience.
The Valedictory function was presided over by Prof Paramjit Singh Judge, former faculty of the Department of Sociology, GNDU and Ex-President of the Indian Sociological Society.
The seminar concluded with the formal vote of thanks by Dr Rachana Sharma to acknowledge the contribution of everyone in making the seminar successful.
Other than the academicians, Representatives of Department of Social Security and Women & Child Development (Punjab) from various districts also participated in the seminar. Representatives of PAN India NGOs and Amritsar based Welfare Organizations also showed their presence.