Let us empower persons with disabilities to achieve SDGs

Ranjan K Baruah
If we look around we could see few people who are challenged and they are also called as divyangjan . Today, the world population is over 7 billion people. More than one billion people, or approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability. 80 per cent live in developing countries. In India , The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities in the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment facilitates empowerment of the persons with disabilities, who as per Census 2011 are 2.68 crore and are 2.21 percent of the total population of the Country. These include persons with Seeing Hearing, Speech, Movement, Mental Illness, Multiple Disability and any other disabilities. A disability is an impairment that may be cognitive, developmental, intellectual, mental, physical, sensory, or some combination of these. It substantially affects a person’s life activities and may be present from birth or occur during a person’s lifetime. According to World Health Organisation (WHO) disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. Impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations.
The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons (December 3) was proclaimed in 1992, by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. It aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life. This year’s theme is “empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”. António Guterres, Secretary-General of United Nations on his messages stated that “ on this International Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to work together for a better world that is inclusive, equitable and sustainable for everyone, where the rights of people with disabilities are fully realized.”
This year’s theme focuses on empowering persons with disabilities for an inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 2030 Agenda pledges to “leave no one behind”. All of need to work together for an inclusive society and to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Apart from governments or civil society or corporate or media, each and every one contributes towards making an inclusive society. It has been proved that when barriers to the inclusion are removed and persons with disabilities are empowered to participate fully in societal life, their entire community benefits and it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to make barrier free environment. (With direct inputs from UN publication and feedback may be sent to bkranjan@gmail.com)
Persons with disabilities, “the world’s largest minority”, have generally poorer health, lower education achievements, fewer economic opportunities and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities. This is largely due to the lack of services available to them (like information and communications technology (ICT), justice or transportation) and the many obstacles they face in their everyday lives. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) recognizes that the existence of barriers constitutes a central component of disability.
Facts & Figures: 7 billion people: world population, Over 1 billion people in the world have some form of disability, that’s 1 in 7, More than 100 million disabled persons are children, Children with disabilities are almost four times more likely to experience violence than non-disabled children, 80% of all people with disabilities live in a developing country, 50% of disabled persons cannot afford health care, 177 countries have ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The writer can be reached at bkranjan@gmail.com

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