“We aren’t like this on purpose. We were born like this and we hope and pray every single day that this struggle should finish with us and no one else should be born this way,” said J. Deepa.
As an athlete who had represented the country at sporting events for the differently abled, Ms. Deepa, who has recently finished her Ph. D., is still waiting for employment and raised the issue of dearth of employment opportunities for the disabled at a State-level conference for differently abled women which took place at the Gandhi Memorial Museum here on Sunday. “While sportspeople are given houses, seats in educational institutions, jobs and loans under the sports quota, more needs to be done for the differently abled sportspeople as well,” she says.
The conference, organised by the Tamil Nadu Differently abled Federation Charitable Trust and the State forum for rights of all women with disabilities, started with a rally which was flagged off by Mayor V.V. Rajan Chellappa from the Gandhi Memorial Museum premises. Members from various associations of the differently abled people from across the State took part in the rally.
The special guests at the conference included U. Sagayam , Managing Director of Co-optex, Vimala Sagayam, Patron of the State forum for rights of all women with disabilities, and P. Simmachandran, general secretary of the Federation of Tamil Nadu Differently Abled Associations. “We hope to come up with a compilation of needs and demands of the differently abled people through discussion and send it to authorities in the State government to have them redressed,” said A. Bhoopathy Pandian , one of the organisers of the conference. “The challenges faced by the differently abled women will receive special focus” he added.
Representations were made to address various issues pertaining to employment opportunities available for the differently abled women. “While a lot is being done for women self-help groups (SHGs) across the State, we hope that differently abled women who have started such groups become eligible for special considerations to promote entrepreneurial abilities,” said Sabina, a differently abled woman.
Pandimeena, a mother of two, broke down while talking about how tough she was finding it to raise her children without a proper job and requested for assistance to set up a small business and lead it from her house.
“Education is always available for people irrespective of them being differently abled, and I urge people not to lose hope. There are free coaching classes conducted for them to write IAS examinations and the government is also offering free training and opportunities to set up small-scale businesses which should be taken up,” said Mr. Sagayam.
Mr. Simmachandran said steps were being taken to urge authorities to change policies regarding granting of vehicles and wheelchairs. “The current rules state that only people who are declared over 40 per cent disabled are eligible for vehicles and this has affected many,” he said.