It could best be described as an advocacy, policy prescription, opinion piece, a crusade or a call to affirmative action. For the past five years now I keep advocating for this course which is worthy of consideration in all countries across the globe. A call boldly inscribed and entrenched in Goal 8 and 11 of the 17 SDGs, which states that ‘’by 2030, we are to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value. Also, ‘’provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities’’.
Persons with disabilities are the world's largest minority group and they are estimated to include about 10% of the global population or roughly 650 million people, live with a disability. In most of the OECD countries, females have higher rates of disability than males. Disability affects hundreds of millions of families in developing countries and even the supposed developed countries.
Interestingly as the population ages this figure is expected to increase. It is on record, that, about Eighty per cent of persons with disabilities live in developing countries, according to the UN Development Program (UNDP). The World Bank also estimates that 20 per cent of the world's poorest people have some kind of disability, and tend to be regarded in their own communities as the most disadvantaged. Recent statistics show a steady increase in these numbers.
Social, architectural, transportation, institutional, and information barriers continue to prevent them from having access to available resources and opportunities to maximize their potential.
As a global village, disability persons has been hugely discriminated against and relegated to the streets in most cases to beg for money or arms for a living. An unfortunate situation that deserves immediate attention and eradication throughout the globe.
Admittedly, it is worth noting that the attitude of some countries like South Korea toward the disabled in our society has changed for the better as compared to the last two decades but we can still do better. Existing policies formulated to aid disabled persons are quite commendable. For instance, the provision of special facilities for the disabled persons in government universities and other state institutions are some of the measures which had gone a long way to integrate disabled persons into the society and also give them quality education. But, we can do better as individual sovereign states.
Now, to the fulcrum of my article, we have able bodied persons especially in developing countries executing a job that requires no much effort. The operations of Toll in developing countries and a few developed countries, glaringly able bodied persons are sited at toll booth centres across the world using only their hands to work (an operation in which every disabled person on wheel chair can execute with ease if employed) and serve vehicles plying our high ways at all toll booth joints across the world.
Further, secretarial jobs, receptionists, customer care officers, Front Desk officers, factory hand workers and other idle (at a sitting) jobs in various institutions and organisations are jobs that require intelligence and the use of only the arms to execute with ease when given the needed training and tools.
I strongly believe that this is supposed to be a preserved job in the form of a quota system or an affirmative action for the already vulnerable group, i.e. the disabled person.
Across the globe, we see on daily basis, countless persons with disability dangerously parading on the streets all over, quite inhumane to observe. An act of begging for arms on the streets and in people’s home seems to have become their only hope of living life.
Suffixing it to say, most disabled persons are very intelligent, can speak, write and communicate effectively.
Yet societal stigmatization and failures on the part of government, departments and agencies tasked with overseeing such situations has resulted in worsening their plight with unfriendly policies and actions.
Unequivocally, I humbly call on all countries, the international development agencies, International Labour Organizations, Human right advocates, civil society organizations, disabled persons federations, to string along with this clarion call of mine, to opt for the reservation of such jobs for the physically challenged persons, particularly those who have strong arms (hands) but only sit on wheel chairs or limps on one leg.
All well-meaning citizens of the global village must come to terms of the fact that Persons with disability (PWD) need understanding, not compassion from society, they need opportunities (quota systems) such as jobs in which they are qualified and capable of handling not charity and they need equity and equality but not consideration. Once this occurs, persons with disability barriers to education, employment, and public services will be removed and that can help them escape poverty and live a happy life. Globally, our disabled brothers and sisters experience such a glaring discrimination year in year out.
However, this piece, from my peace of mind, seeks to call for a crusade, policy advocacy and formulation or repealing legislative Instruments on the Disability Act in developing and developed countries and the world at large, to incorporate the above suggestions to ensure that lives of disabled persons becomes more meaningful. Preferential treatment in certain Jobs and other social services must be tailored to favour disabled persons in our respective countries.
It is not only exceptional to developing countries, as a study in the United Kingdom found that the poverty rate for disabled people was 23.1 percent compared to 17.9 percent for non-disabled people, but when extra expenses associated with being disabled were considered, the poverty rate for people with disabilities shot up to 47.4 percent.
Although advances in technology and medicine, along with cultural changes, are helping to redefine what it means to be disabled, there is no denying the fact that persons with disability needs more than that.
Also, a survey 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 6 per cent of women with disabilities had been forcibly sterilized. Research indicates that violence against children with disabilities occurs at annual rates at least 1.7 times greater than for their peers without disabilities.
Discriminatory practices continue to deny persons with disabilities as well as workers who become disabled a genuine access to work. In most cases persons with disability would like to work but could not find jobs. However, I humbly call on all to consider such an initiative and give it the necessary attention.
The world would be a better place to live not only for abled bodied persons, but, when all persons with disability are treated equal devoid of sectionalism, tribalism, and separatism, regionalism, and hypocrisy whiles positive preference is upheld. I am of the conviction that, people with physical disabilities could perform most jobs done by individuals without disabilities.
In conclusion, this piece is to implore all and sundry to ponder over this thought, that, disability exists not because disabled persons use a wheelchair, but because the broader environment they live in is not accessible to them. Even the battle to find a workplace or a school that is wheelchair accessible is a feat in itself, let alone an employer who is going to be cool about employing someone with a disability in a job they actually want to do. This bleak picture need not be the case for the world, especially since the nature of the population boom presents unique opportunities for the future. We can craft a new socio-economic reality for the globe that lives up to all the 17 SDGs target. It is not enough to assume that progress will roll in on what Martin Luther King Jr. called ‘the wheels of inevitability’; it is our efforts and specific disability-friendly policies that will close the gap between the status quo and the utopia we crave. Let us therefore properly acknowledge that we have largely discriminated against our brothers and sisters with disability for a long time, with all the good and bad, so we can chart out the path towards where they need to be in society.Yes We Can!
M.sc. International Development Cooperation
PSPS, Yeungnam University
Korea Republic, South
Richard Zinleri is a budding thought advocate, youth leader, writer and a Human Resources Manager from Ghana, with the Local Government Service. He is a graduate student at PSPS, Yeungnam University in South Korea, majoring in M.Sc. International Development Cooperation. He holds a BA in Political Science from University of Ghana, where he was active in student leadership, and has experience in writing journal articles, policy analysis, research and politics. He writes from Yeungnam University, Gyeongsan.
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