• 28 December 2018

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    Category : Reportage

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    Equality for persons with disabilities, a long way to go

    There is still a long way to go to include persons with disabilities in all of our daily lives. This is why FIIAPP is working on projects such as Bridging The Gap to make this path ever shorter

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    Moment at one of the Bridging The Gap events in Paraguay

    “Any restriction or absence in the ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being.” This is how the World Health Organization (WHO) defines disability.  Definition published in 1980 in its International Classification of Deficiencies and Disabilities (CIDDM).

     

    Likewise, the WHO estimates that more than one billion persons live with some type of disability, which represents 15% of the world’s population. More and more people belong to this group, which is closely related to the ageing of the population and the increase in chronic diseases.

     

    For its part, the United Nations (UN), says that persons with disabilities tend to have fewer economic opportunities, more limited access to education and higher poverty rates. It also highlights that “children with disabilities are four times more likely to be victims of violent acts, the same proportion as adults with mental problems,” demonstrating the need to develop legislation to protect them. It must additionally be added that these people also face a series of obstacles such as transport and access to information.

     

    Access to health, education and employment

     

    Health is considered a fundamental right for society. However, for persons who have some type of disability it is extremely important, since their illness can improve or worsen depending on the healthcare provided, such as rehabilitation.

     

    Although it seems somewhat paradoxical, persons with disabilities need more healthcare on a regular basis, but benefit the least from this right, since 50% do not have access to healthcare. According to the WHO, many persons with disabilities do not have sufficient resources to pay for their treatments, despite the fact that 80% of persons with some type of disability live in developed countries.

     

    However, health is not the only area affected, these difficulties also extend to education. According to data from the National Institute of Statistics, there are currently around 560,000 disabled students in Spain between 16 and 17 years of age. Of these, 16.5% are in special education centres and the remaining 83.5% attend ordinary education. The number of students with disabilities is high but a high percentage of young persons with disabilities do not attend school, 43%.

     

    At the global level, children with disabilities are less likely to attend school, especially if they are poor. We also found inequality in access to education between boys and girls. Therefore, “mechanisms must be improved to integrate girls with disabilities into the education system, and bring gender into the 2030 Agenda“. Says Ola Abu, Director of Research and Global Influence at the Leonard Cheshire charity.

     

    Of the 3.84 million persons with disabilities in Spain, 481,000 are working. In relation to employment, persons with disabilities had a low participation in the jobs market in 2017, since according to INE data, their activity rate was 35%. Likewise, women with disabilities had a smaller presence in the labour market than men, a fact that shows the long journey that remains to inclusion and equality.

     

    The world outlook is not very different since the employment rate of men and women with disabilities is much lower than those without.

     

    Persons with disabilities in the 2030 Agenda

     

    In its commitment to “not leave anyone behind”, the UN’s 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development reflects the importance of inclusion and improvement in the conditions of persons with disabilities. The tenth objective of the 17 in the Agenda deals with the inclusion of persons with disabilities.

     

    As we have previously indicated, persons with disabilities have difficulties when accessing health services. In this context, the UN emphasises that these people are up to five times more likely to face health expenses that are described as “catastrophic”.

     

    Bridging The Gap

     

    It is very important that international cooperation becomes a fundamental tool that allows governments to give visibility to persons with disabilities by including them in their political agendas. In addition to these, both society and institutions must come together to translate the needs of these persons to give them a voice and improve their current situation in the best possible way.

     

    Ecuador, Paraguay, Burkina Faso and Ethiopia have benefited from this European Union-financed and FIIAPP-managed projectBridging The Gap. This project aims to reduce the social exclusion of persons with disabilities in low and middle income countries in Africa and Latin America.

     

    The situation in the countries where Bridging The Gap works is complicated. According to Boukary Savadogo, permanent secretary of the National Multisectoral Committee for the Protection and Promotion of Persons with Disabilities in Africa, “in Burkina Faso persons with disabilities are not welcome.” In order to improve the situation of persons with disabilities in the African country, “Burkina Faso is aligned with the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda”.

     

    It is important that we reflect and try together to improve the mechanisms so that persons with disabilities can have a dignified, full life in which they can enjoy each and every one of their fundamental rights.

    The views and opinions expressed in this blog are the sole responsibility of its author.