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Empowering Persons with Disabilities Contributes to Poverty Eradication

Persons with disabilities are estimated as 10% of world population, which amounts to about 650 million representing the largest minority group in the world. According to WHO, this number is growing, where 426 million of these live below poverty line in developing countries. based on these facts, the International Day of Persons With Disabilities  this year (3 December), focused on linking disability issues with those of poverty elimination and development, as this year’s theme for the occasion was “Keeping the promise: Mainstreaming disability in the Millennium Development Goals”.

In this occasion, GIHR joins UN Secretary General, Pan Ki-moon and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay in calling upon world governments to exert more effort to support Persons With Disabilities  because streamlining disability in national plans, programs, and labor markets will enable Persons With Disabilities  to play their role as active citizens to develop their communities and bring about positive change thereby supporting the endeavors to empower communities and eradicate poverty.  

The UN Secretary General, Pan Ki-moon, stated in his address that day that “Persons with disabilities represent 20% of the poor in developing nations. They suffer all over the world from high unemployment and inaccessibility of adequate education and health care”. He emphasized the need to empower persons with disabilities, because there are no special provisions for this group in many countries, which leads them to end in a state of isolation and detachment with their communities.

On the other hand, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, explained that the current endeavors to eradicate poverty will subside unless adequate efforts to improve the lives of millions of persons with disabilities  are exerted because according to ILO, 386 million persons at employment age suffer from one form of disability or another, where unemployment among Persons with disabilities  is as high as 80% in some countries where employers assume that a person with disability is unable to work.

Pillay commented the prompt ratification of the “Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities” stating that “the convention explains that people with disabilities are entitled to the same rights as everyone else, as they are entitled to the same rights and basic services such as health care, education, the right to employment, and non-discrimination”.

Women and children with disabilities face a wide spectrum of violations as women with disabilities are vulnerable on two counts since they are subject seclusion and marginalization on the basis of gender, on the one hand, and on the basis of disability on the other. According to some studies, women with disabilities represent the poorest social group all over the world.

As for children with disabilities, some researches point out that violence against children with disabilities exceeds violence against normal children by at least 1.7% annually.

In education, UNESCO statistics show that 90% of children with disabilities in developing countries are out of schools. Literacy among adults with disabilities also lacks behind, according to UNDP figures, as it is as low as 3% among men and does not exceed 1% among women.

The International Day of People with Disabilities was adopted in the 3rd of December 1981 in order to raise people’s awareness on disability issues and to highlight the rights of persons with disabilities and the benefits which can accrue as a result of integrating them in all aspects of social economic political and cultural life.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities came into being only in the 13th of December 2006 as the first human rights convention in the twenty-first century. The convention explained that the term “persons with disabilities” includes all those with long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others. So far, all Arab states have ratified the convection except nine countries: Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, and Somalia. GIHR hopes that next year, 2011, will witness the ratification of these counties of this convention.

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