Advocating for Disability Rights in Nepal


This story originally appeared in June 2013.

When Shudarson Subedi was studying law, he discovered a free education provision in Nepal’s laws—all people with disabilities would be offered the chance to study for free. Subedi had grown up in rural Nepal, and developed a disability as a result of polio when he was two years old. Only Subedi had not been offered his education for free.

I requested this provision but they denied me,” he recalls. “So I challenged it in the Supreme Court.” He won the case, and today Nepal provides free education for all people with disabilities, even at the Master’s and PhD level.

Subedi is now in his 40s, and works as a human rights advocate—providing an active voice on behalf of people with disabilities in Nepal. As the Chair Person for the National Federation of the Disabled Nepal (NFDN)he has been working with Handicap International for more than a decade, promoting disability rights and policies.

Subedi was the only delegate from a Nepalese NGO attending the High Level Meeting on Disability and Development (HLMDD) at the United Nations in New York on September 23. For him, the HLMDD presented opportunities to learn best practices from different countries, especially how countries are implementing the disability treaty known as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Earlier in September, he joined Handicap International at a High Level UN meeting in Nepal. At this meeting, Handicap International presented the international context of the CRPD, while Subedi presented the Nepali context in regards to implementing various initiatives.

When Subedi returns to Nepal, he would like to use the HLMDD as a means to further the CRPD as a human rights instrument. For instance, when delegates shared stories, he noted the different ways the CRPD benefits countries, such as “some countries focusing on employment, and some countries having a separate ministry for people with disabilities.”

If he were to meet with the Nepalese government, he would like to tell them to "to make a national plan of action for people with disabilities and make their policies more CRPD friendly.”

We are sending a message to the UN that in Nepal, we have some good initiatives that we need to preserve,” he says. However, he notes that there are still challenges ahead with development programs—organizers need to be reminded to “include people with disabilities, psychosocial disabilities, and people from remote areas.”


Nepal has ratified the Disability Treaty. Why hasn't the U.S.?

In December 2012, the U.S. came really close to ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Five Senators who voted 'No' stood in the path of the 2/3 vote required to pass the treaty that protects the rights of people with disabilities. We cannot let this happen again! Please sign the Handicap International petition telling Senators to vote YES on the Disability Treaty!