HANDS is thrilled to announce that a past participant in our Professional Fellows Program, Ms. Hayam Abdelrashid, is running for Parliament in Egypt. Hayam, Acting Director of International Cooperation in the Egyptian National Council for Disability Affairs, took part in the Legislative Fellows Program in 2013, during which time she explored disability rights legislation in the United States. Everyone at HANDS wishes her the best in the upcoming Parliamentary elections and is excited to see how Hayam, like so many other fellows, will create a positive impact in her community.
Hayam’s influence to run for Parliament is derived from the recently approved Egyptian Constitution, which granted disabled individuals appropriate representation in Parliament. Article 244 allocated eight seats for individuals with disabilities, an opportunity that Hayam found favorable with the hope of improving quality of life for Egyptians with disabilities. Hayam’s vision for her candidacy is to build a new Egypt that embraces diversity and promotes equality and social justice. Other goals include decreasing unemployment, increasing access to health care services, and improving the quality of education.
With regard to the disability field, Hayam wishes to build an inclusive society for those with disabilities in education , employment and every aspect of life. Her first priority is enacting a new law on the rights of persons with disabilities that complies with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. With 10% of the Egyptian population with disabilities, implementing proactive government programs is pertinent.
Hayam was greatly influenced by her fellowship placement in ‘The State of Illinois Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS), stating “…it gave me the chance to explore the wide range of services provided to people with disabilities…and equipped me professionally and enhanced my knowledge and experience about all disability issues”.
As a member of parliament, Hayam hopes to use her influence to engage individuals with disabilities directly in the policy making process in order for the government to develop better policy and deliver more successful public services. She thinks that her main challenge will be convincing Egyptian citizens that a parliament member with a disability is not just a representative for disabled individuals, but a representative of the entire Egyptian populace. HANDS is sure that Hayam’s dedication, motivation, and passion will ensure her success!
Through gaining an understanding about US laws and legislation, including the Rehabilitation Act, the Education Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, Hayam constructed her platform focusing on providing rights to people with disabilities. Specifically, Hayam would like to improve Rehabilitation Offices in Egypt by allocating specific counselors for each individual who applies. These counselors would help their clients make informed choices about decisions including education, assistive devices, and employment. She additionally wishes to implement partnerships with local workforce programs, businesses, advocacy groups, disability support services, institutions of higher education, families, parents and guardians, and Community Rehabilitation Programs in order to help individuals with disabilities attain success. What great ideas she has!
We’re so grateful to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the many individual donors who are making this program possible. Thank you so much for enabling these young professionals to change the future for people with disabilities in their countries!