People with Disabilities in Nepal – an Interview with NFDN

By Milena Rampoldi and Denise Nanni. In the following our interview with Tika of the National Federation of the Disabled Nepal (NFDN). We talked about the problems  and the discrimination people with disabilities face in Nepal, and about how the organisation is engaged to support people, and to change the prejudice of the society. 


What are the main difficulties that people with disabilities face in Nepal?
There still persist the attitude/view of charitable and welfare based thinking along with traditional norms and practices that are prevailing in the society, putting people with disabilities (PWDs) in a double discriminatory and marginalized situation. It’s a challenge for PWDs and others alike, to come out of this mind frame and move into a perspective that PWDs if provided opportunities and support are capable to live an independent life. Political instability, lack of political will/ commitment by policy makers, poor implementation of existing policies/laws in line with UNCRPD, inadequate /unsecured budget are some of the structural challenges on part of the government. However insecurity of being a PWDS, prevailing discriminatory laws, financial limitations, lack of disabled friendly infrastructure and lack of awareness among PWDs and others alike still remain as challenges.
Moreover, with in the disabilities women with disabilities are more backward & marginalized such as being women, disabled & socio culture barriers they are often restricted in their movement, imposed by their families or at times self imposed, for fear of sexual assault and harassment due to their increased vulnerability. This is directly reflected in WWDs falling behind in every other perspective such as education, employment, access to health services, participation in decision-making bodies etc.
Women with disabilities are suffered from various health problems due to their asexual image. Negative attitude & gender stereotypes toward Women with disabilities in the context of marriage & settle family life like they have no sexual desire, looking ugly, unable to give birth healthy baby & unable to barer baby, give birth disabled baby.
Sexual & Reproductive Health only link with marriage, but people don’t want to get marriage with her due to her disability, cultural and traditional believe so deprive fully enjoying their Sexual & Reproductive Health Rights.
Do you think that prejudices about disability still have a strong influence on the social inclusion?

Yes, interms of inclusion matters disability should be cross cutting issues so it has to focused to as an intersectionality with in the women rights, dalit rights, indiginious rights, sexual minorits so on. The Nepal government has no specific body or mechanism to consider issues of persons with disabilities. The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare is considered to be the line ministry for all legislative purposes relating to the PWDs. There still people have a thinking like disability is inability, they canot contribute to the family & society so need to rehabilited them through the social security allounce & need put in the rehabilitation center in case of sever disability. Although, Nepals new constitutions has provision to all citizen should have equal rights with inclusion but in practice not full inclusion of the people with disability they just treated as a tokenism. The disbaled peoples issues are also not been able to see from a perspective of social justice and they are considered as uncapable to perform any activities. PWDs are also deprived from lack of proper communiction and rights to information. All these problems can be to some extent mitigated through increasing awareness among people to be disable friendly and provide  their support and empathy to the PWDs.

Regarding the legal access and legal capacity; Nepal Government doesn’t consider the helping required to confess each problem. So legal revisions required.  Laws are also discriminatory towards women with disabilities (Eg Civil Code 2020 BS Section 9 of the Chapter entitles a man to get enter into a second marriage if his wife has been rendered blind, physically or mentally disabled).
Similarly, the Nepal state is also not being able to full address the issues of PWDs. Lack of reliable statistics or disaggregated data is one of primary problems that serve to enhance discrimination against PWDs. Such disparity results in low visibility of PWDs and their issues in policy-making initiatives and particularly in service delivery institutes that may cater to their needs.
How do you address the problem of raising awareness about disability issues?
National Federation of the Disabled Nepal (NFDN) has adopted advocacy, awareness, capacity building and networking & collaboration as the key strategies to achieve its long term development goal. NFDN was established with the vision of empowering person with disability who is educated, socially secure, and economically productive, politically awareness, and happily living with full realization of human right and dignity in an inclusive and a barrier free society. Its overall goal is to increase capacity of all Disabled Peoples Organization’s (DPOs) in management, leadership, advocacy and local resource mobilization within an active and effective network of NFDN to fight for the right and dignity of persons with disability.
The DPOs on the other hand has nationwide network and trying its best to lobby and advocate ensuring PWDs rights. There are around 335 DPOs operating throughout the country, and National Federation of Disabled Nepal (NFDN) is the umbrella organization. Besides there are also impairment specific national networks such as National Federation of Deaf and Hard of Hearing, intellectual parents federation, Blind network & women with disabilities networks. There are some good examples of NFDNs lobbying and advocacy work such as current civil service act has provisioned the proportionate inclusion of the PWDs in the recruitment, PWDs get 50% discount on air fares, government amended the classification of disability making this disable friendly, ensure the political rights of people with disabilities in the new constitution etc.
Similarly, through the media mobilization such as FM Radio, news paper, television & online media  in national & local level for publishing positive news, PSA, radio drama, success story etc.
What are the main features and purposes of your capacity building program?
In order to attain these, the NFDN has strengthened both in an individually and organizationally through networking in National level to grass roots level & providing various training to people with disabilities as an individual level. Along with this capacity building of Member Organization on advocacy, leadership and organizational management & capacity building of government agencies and other stakeholders on disability inclusion.
Do you cooperate with local authorities and institutions? If yes, how?
Yes, NFDN’s main goal is ensured barrier free inclusive and accessible society for all including persons with disabilities in all aspect of social life and they have decisive role in political, civic and cultural life with their dignity fully protected and respected. One of the strategic objectives of NFDN is to enhance the capacity of local DPOs, disability actors and Self-help groups to execute the advocacy initiatives at local level. Further NFDN has been building up the networking with likeminded organizations and to develop the synergy with different stake holders for promoting the rights and benefits of the persons with disabilities in Nepal.
NFDN has been in partnership with different national and international Organizations (Donors) those who are working in National to local level as well as collaborating partner of Ministry of women children and Social Welfare, the government of Nepal. Further NFDN has demonstrated capacity to execute different level of advocacy initiatives through its regional, districts and community level affiliated member organizations & closely working with the local government authority for increasing access to local resource/budget which already has allocated inclusive budget & program by the government for empowering the people with disabilities & strengthen Disabled People Organizations. Likewise in strong collaboration with women children office in district for distributing disability ID card, disability allowances & assistive devices etc. also working with police office for aiming to eliminate the violence against women & girls in local level.
Nepal is a ratifying country of United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities so it needs to be domestication by the government through the formation & amendment legal framework. Based on the new constitution more than 150 laws are being revised and amended and they are taking feedback from the general public. We have also good opportunity to give feedback to make sure disabilities issues with focus to People with disabilities issues are addressed in this revised law.


Now, NFDN is taking lead to prepare shadow report of CRPD, a main CRPD shadow report writing committee consisting of DPOs, NGOs, Human Rights Organizations, Women Rights Organization and Media is formed. Shadow report will present the broader picture of situation of people with disabilities of Nepal and will pressurize the government as well as international community including UN to bring our programs that will ultimately uplift the life status of men and women with disabilities including sever disability and they will be able to enjoy all rights as others.