Monsur Ahmed Choudhuri

Ashoka Fellow

Citation

This profile was prepared when Monsur Ahmed Choudhuri was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2002.
The New Idea
The UN and other international bodies adopted disability issues in the early 1970s; however, the sector only gained momentum in Bangladesh just over a decade ago. Though a handful of specialized schools and institutions established by the government and others existed from the late 1950s and 1960s, they were small in scale, without many facilities, and mostly unknown. The situation is further complicated by the prevailing view that the disabled are responsible for their circumstance and are a burden to their family and society. They face daily discrimination and most families are ashamed and tend to hide or deny their existence.     
Monsur has been a key figure in bringing significant systemic change to the disability field by changing public understanding, law, and the allocation of resources to enable people with disabilities access to specialized services, medical care, education, and employment opportunities. He has been instrumental in pressuring government to foster innovation, organize civil society to respond to the needs of the disabled, unit different groups to work together to ensure the disabled rights are achieved, and demonstrate new approaches in the field. Monsur’s pioneering work over the past quarter of a century has meant that physically disabled people today are more visible and are gradually being integrated in society—important achievements in a culture where even discussing disability was taboo.
Building on his past work and successes, Monsur intends to close the gap between national laws designed to protect the rights of the disabled and the challenges they continue to face, establish an Asia-Pacific platform for disability advocacy, and document the history of disability in the region, with particular reference to Bangladesh.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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