Tajikistan: Changing how we report on people with disabilities

Jul 3, 2015

Twenty-five electronic and print journalists from throughout Tajikistan participated in a two-day awareness-raising training in Dushanbe organized by local NGO, “Ishtiroq” in cooperation with UNDP.

“This is the first time in my 25-year career that journalists have an opportunity to learn from people with disabilities about the stigmas they face. Through practical examples we are able to experience some prejudice and barriers they live with every day,” said Albarali Sattor, Chair of Tajikistan’s journalist union.

Essential for socially responsible reporting, the training focused on raising journalists’ awareness about the challenges and aspirations people with different abilities face – stressing that that “disability” is really about disabling attitudes and environments.

About two-thirds of participants had never written an article on or about people living with disabilities. Those who did cited that was mainly due to the fact that they had a family member or friend living with one. At the end of the training’s first day, journalists concluded that they should explore how to introduce topics of general interest, and promote social and public good in an engaging and readable way.

As journalists are always working – the training was simultaneously broadcast on Tajik national television, a local station, as well as two radio programmes. This kind of exposure in and of itself can have a real impact on the ground for the viewing and listening public.

Official data show that between 140 000-170 000 people - including 30,000 children – live with disabilities in Tajikistan. They make up two percent of total population, which is well below the worldwide estimate of 10-15 percent.  Tajikistan’s considerations to join the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are jointly supported by UNDP, UNICEF and the WHO.

UNICEF will continue working with this core group of journalists to co-create national awareness raising campaign under a joint United Nations project titled ”Building and Strengthening Alliances for Inclusive Policies and Communities for Persons with Disabilities in Tajikistan.”

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