DAY 3: JAVED ABIDI

Let’s have a talk about Javed Abidi, an Indian disability activist who made massive advances in equality of opportunities for people with disability in India. Born in 1965, Abidi was diagnosed with spina bifida and as a result of medical negligence became a wheelchair user for the rest of his life. Abidi took his disability in his stride, and since highschool he was a vocal ambassador for disability and then in university he started to become actively involved in disability organisations.

 

Unfortunately, when returning to India after completing university in the U.S.A he struggled to find employment in journalism, despite being more than qualified, due to prospective employers discriminating against him for having a physical disability. But then in 1993 Abidi left behind his journalistic career when he was invited by Sonia Gandhi to establish the disability unit of Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, and for 3 years he alone ran it. As well as, setting up other organisations in his lifetime such as: Disability Rights Group and National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), he also led the protest against the Indian parliament to push the passing of the Persons with Disabilities Act.

 

Through his activism Abidi aided in policy making of laws to protect disabled persons, improved employment opportunities for disabled persons in the technology industry (for example in Apple, Microsoft and Cisco Systems), and lobbied to make many monuments in India more accessible. He also played a major part in creating a culture in which people with different disabilities, mental and physical, share information, communicate, and support each other.

 

It is fair to say that Javed Abidi is an inspiration to all and that there is so much we can all learn from his life and his mindset. Without a doubt Javed Abidi is one of the many important ancestors of activism.

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