MJF Newsletter-May 2021
During May 2021, Manusher Jonno (MJF) accelerated its online advocacy efforts for effective measures by the government and relevant agencies to ensure rights for ethnic community and people with disabilities to improve their situation during COVID-19. Besides, the organisation tried to continue regular project activities with the beneficiaries.
This e-newsletter highlights some of the activities undertaken during May 2021.
Demand of separate allocation for ethnic people in national budget
Leaders of the ethnic communities of the Chattogram Hill Tracts (CHT) and the plain lands have demanded separate financial incentives in the upcoming budget 2021-2022 to overcome the COVID-19 fallout at a webinar organised by MJF on 2 May 2021. Also they have considered it essential to have a specific allocation for the ethnic community to make the development activities more inclusive. The leaders of indigenous rights organisations also demanded a separate paragraph in the national budget while allocating funds for the development of ethnic people.
Planning Minister Mr. M A Mannan was the Chief Guest of the event when ethnic minority leader Mr. Sanjeev Drong presented the keynote speech. Mr. Drong mentioned in his paper that the budget allocation for the small ethnic groups should be done in proportion with their population. The keynote speaker alleged that due to the lack of participation from the ethnic communities as local representatives, there had been no development in the life of the ethnic people for a long time.
The Chief Guest assured the leaders that the government is committed to the rights of indigenous people and he will raise his voice for the necessary allocation for them from the upcoming budget. Ms. Nirupama Dewan, former member of National Human Rights Commission; Raja Devasish Roy, chief of the Chakma Circle; Ms. Mosammat Hamida Banu Begum; CHT Affairs Ministry Secretary; and Members of Parliament Pir Fazlur Rahman Mezbah and Mr. Rashed Khan Menon also spoke at the webinar as special guests while Ms. Shaheen Anam, executive director of MJF, presided over the event.
MJF demands disability-friendly websites
Access to ICT extremely important for people with disabilities also at present days. MJF organised a virtual workshop to demand special technology and methods to access different websites by people with disabilities easily and effectively. The workshop, “Increasing Access to Websites for People with Disabilities”, organised in association with Young Power in Social Action (YPSA), Centre for Services and Information on Disability (CSID) and Visually Impaired People’s Society (VIPS) on 4 May 2021.
Mr. Bhashkar Bhattacharjee, a consultant on visual impairment, presented the findings of an audit report, “Web Accessibility Report by Identifying Gaps and Barriers with Recommendations and Guidelines”, in the workshop. The report was based on the experiences of 30 people with visual impairment who accessed various websites. According to the participants, they faced difficulty using the keyboard, reading the Bangla PDF format, and accessing websites with timers.
Mr. Md. Mohsin, Secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, said the government would do whatever is possible to solve the issues of people with disabilities. ICT Division Senior Secretary MR. NM Zeaul Alam also made similar remarks. Ms. Shaheen Anam, Executive Director of MJF, said: “Generally, we talk about physical access in every sector and about physical disabilities. But we are now in the era of IT, and people with disabilities are being left out in terms of access to IT platforms as well. If people with visual impairment cannot access websites, they will be left in the dark.”