President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday stressed the need for a comprehensive and effective awareness campaign to highlight the rights of persons with disabilities (PWDs). He also emphasized upon the steps for bringing behavioural changes in society and removing of psychological and physical barriers in PWDs’ mainstreaming, and their financial and economic empowerment as equal members of society. The president expressed these views during a presentation on plans for an awareness campaign on PWDs given by Press Secretary to President Qamar Bashir at the Aiwan-e-Sadr. First Lady, Begum Samina Arif Alvi and senior officials of the President’s Secretariat also attended the meeting, President Secretariat Press Wing said in a press release. Addressing the meeting, the president said that PWDs or differently abled persons (DAPs) constituted an important segment of the population and it was the duty of the relevant stakeholders and the society in general to ensure their inclusiveness in all aspects of life, including political, economic, finance, business, trade and services. He called for removing psychological and physical barriers to realize the full potential of PWDs and creating enabling conditions for PWDs to help them become productive members of society. The president said that there was a need to relook at their attitudes towards DAPs and bring proactive reforms in the education system from the grassroots level to educate the students at all levels regarding the rights of DAPs and the obligations and responsibilities of society to stop stereotyping them, stop the name-calling, harassment or intimidation of DAPs which were the biggest impediment towards the inclusiveness of the DAPs as fully empowered and productive member of the society. During the meeting, the participants of the meeting were briefed about the overall situation of PWDs, societal perceptions towards PWDs, the role of media in creating awareness about the rights of PWDs, etiquettes and manners for interaction with PWDs, and using the right terminology to refer to PWDs or differently abled people. The president said that the media, both conventional and social, had always been at the forefront to inform, educate and entertain the people and enjoyed vast reach to the urban, rural and unprivileged populations in underserved areas. “Media was the most effective and useful partner in the dissemination of purpose-made media products on the rights of DAPs and the obligations and responsibilities of society towards them,” he added. He said that these media products might sensitize the relevant stakeholders and general public to remove social barriers, ensure their inclusion and mainstreaming and create a harassment and discrimination-free enabling environment for DAPs. The president called upon all the stakeholders, from the public and private sectors, including Government ministries, departments, NGOs, welfare and civil society organizations to join hands and improve the legislative, legal, and financial physical aspects related to DAPs on a top priority basis. The president also highlighted the need to make buildings and public places accessible to PWDs by building PWD-friendly ramps, and called upon the private sector, especially the banking, telecom, business and industrial sectors to take steps in this regard, besides providing employment opportunities to PWDs. He also urged upon the need to make the websites of the public and private sector institutions accessible and PWD-friendly.