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Pushing for accessibility

Aarti Dhar
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Disabled People’s International wants disability to be a standalone goal in the post-2015 Development Agenda

We can:Participants of the Champions with Disability Run in Bangalore.PHOTO: K.Murali Kumar
We can:Participants of the Champions with Disability Run in Bangalore.PHOTO: K.Murali Kumar

As the global development fraternity and political leaders gear up to discuss the post-2015 Development Goals during the UN General Assembly Meetings in New York this month, the disability sector has expressed serious concern over the non–inclusion of disability as a focused goal in the report of the High Level Panel (HLP) on the post-2015 development agenda.

“In the year 2000, when the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were formulated, it was assumed that they would automatically apply to persons with disabilities. There was also some effort by the United Nations and a few international organisations to create awareness in this regard among various stakeholders. However, two years before its deadline for completion, none of the goals have been met for persons with disabilities. This is a mistake that the world cannot afford to make again. Therefore, the discussions and deliberations on Post -2015 Development Goals will have a significant bearing on the lives of one billion people with disabilities,” says Javed Abidi, chairperson, Disabled People’s International (DPI) who will participate in the High Level Meeting on Disability & Development in New York.

The HLP report states, “We should ensure that no person– regardless of ethnicity, gender, geography, disability, race or other status– is denied universal human rights and basic economic opportunities.” Further, the report has stated quite emphatically that, “Targets should only be considered ‘achieved’ if they are met for all relevant income and social groups.” However, DPI is of the opinion that this would not be enough to achieve the goals for persons with disabilities in the post-2015 development agenda.   

Calling for inclusion of a stand-alone goal on disability in the post-2015 development agenda, similar on the lines of gender which has been addressed in the HLP report, the DPI has proposed specific targets/indicators for persons with disabilities under each goal.

Affirmative action

The DPI wants that the poverty line be adjusted to include disability costs and ensure that all general poverty alleviation and social protection policies and schemes have accessibility, accommodation and affirmative action for persons with disabilities.

Similarly, all policies and programmes, infrastructure and systems related to empowerment and rights of women should have a special component for women with disabilities so that such women with special needs are not discriminated against, the DPI has said.

More than one billion people in the world live with some form of disability, of who nearly 200 million experience considerable difficulties in functioning. In the years ahead, disability will be an even greater concern because its prevalence is on the rise. This is due to ageing populations and the higher risk of disability in older people as well as the global increase in chronic health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and mental health disorders.

About 80 per cent of people with disabilities live in developing countries, 82 per cent live below the poverty line and 20 per cent of this group are the poorest of the poor.

Mortality for children with disabilities may be as high as 80 per cent in countries where the under-five mortality as a whole has decreased below 20 per cent, according to the United Kingdom's Department for International Development, adding that in some cases it seems as if disabled children are being "weeded out".

According to data available with Child Line, Lucknow, of the 27 new born abandoned children between 2007-08, 21 were female and ‘handicapped’ either mentally or physically. Amongst boys, 10 of the 19 found abandoned, were ‘handicapped’.

Education wanting

UNESCO studies have suggested that only one-two per cent of children with disabilities in developing countries receive any education. In developing countries, 80-90 per cent of people with disabilities of working age are unemployed.

It is estimated that only two per cent of people with disabilities in developing countries have access to rehabilitation and appropriate basic services. Women and girls with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to abuse. A survey in 2004, in Orissa, India, found that virtually all of the women and girls with disabilities were beaten at home, 25 per cent of women with intellectual disabilities had been raped and six per cent of women with disabilities had been forcibly sterilized.


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