Physically Challenged
Physically Challenged

Speakers at the 55th Session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development, deliberating how to effectively mainstream disability into poverty reduction efforts, have urged both state and non-state actors to strengthen their actions to achieve results.

They called for the building of reliable data on persons with disability and adequate investments in social protection and accessibility schemes that would ensure the development of their full potentials, for easy integration into society, sustainable incomes and their wellbeing.

They agreed that there was an intrinsic link between poverty and disability because persons with disability were usually marginalised and denied the social protection structures that would free them from poverty.

Likewise, poor people who were denied the socio-economic empowerment and support schemes to be self-sustaining, often ended up with physical disabilities.

Consequently, they asked governments, private-sector, corporate and civil societies concerns across the globe, to rethink their policies, programmes and activities to make them disability compliant, thus considering disability as a human rights issue rather than one of charity.

In doing so, they said, there must be broad consultations with persons with disability because their views and contributions matter in efforts that were targeted at them.

When he got the nod to make a contribution, Mark Mapemda of the International Disability Alliance, brought the point home by asking the UN Commission on why the main panelists precluded a person with disability.

The Malawian, whose Alliance champions the cause of persons with intellectual disability, said the situation suggested that persons with disability could not, as stereotyped, speak for themselves.

He, however, acknowledged the efforts of individuals and organisations in advocating their cause, saying without their help they would be worst off.

Moderated by Ms Nora Grace, a Professor and Director of Leonard Cheshire Centre for Disability and Inclusive Development of the University College of London, the panelists included, Mrs Ana Helena Chacon, Vice President of Costa Rica, Mr Steen Lau Jorgensen, Director in charge of Social Protection and Labour at the World Bank Group and Ms Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disability of the Human Rights Council.

The others were Mr Mosharraf Hossain, Director of Global Policy, Influencing &Research of ADD International and Mrs Maria Aparecida Borghetti, Vice Governor of the State of Parana, Brazil.

The forum provided the platform, to among others, review the Overview of the International Policy Framework on Disability and Development related to Poverty Reduction; share good practices in poverty reduction; and discuss recommendations for achieving Sustainable Development Goal one. (End poverty in all forms – for persons with disability).

Mr Jorgensen, for his part, emphasized that having the significant data would form the basis for effective interventions because no one should be left behind in mainstreaming disability issues towards achieving sustainable development globally by 2030.

“Whether you are working to provide water, infrastructure, or promoting the rights of persons living with HIV, assess your goals to see how well they cater for persons with disability, if they don’t, you must re-strategise because the issue of disability must be considered across all facets of life,” he stated.

He said irrespective of an individual’s physical status, his social environment could render him either functional or disabled if he had or lacked the basic amenities to function.

Ghana’s representative to the Session, Madam Otiko Afisah Djaba, appealed to the UN to assist developing countries, such as Ghana, to provide the requisite amenities for the educational, economic and health empowerment of persons with disability.

According to the concept note provided by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs for the forum: “Available data indicates that persons with disability are at greater risk of poverty than persons without disabilities in both developed and developing countries.

“In developing countries, many persons with disability are at a risk of poverty because they are more likely to be part of the informal economy, or even when employed, they are less likely to have long-term career prospects with limited or no pension and health benefits.”

In the developed countries, the UN body says persons with disability have incomes less than 12 per cent the national average, while they face extra costs related to health care, transportation, modified residence, personal assistance and assistive devices.

The discussants also called for the stronger efforts at ending the cases of disability, which include poor health care, conflicts, vehicular accidents and disasters.

The 10-day session, which started on February 1, is on the theme: “Strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all.”

It estimated that there are 786 million poor persons, globally, with 702 living in extreme poverty.

Source: GNA


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