All men and women are equal. The fundamental values of the United Nations, created in the face of intolerance and discrimination, revolve around this faith—the dignity and worth of humans. To stay true to these values, there is a need to bring marginalised communities from the fringes back into the development mainstream.
Undeniably, there has been a deep shift, both in perspective and legislations, regarding the understanding of disability in humans. At one point in time, such people would be considered unfortunate, and then abandoned and left to fend for themselves. At the most it would be their parents or the immediate family, that would take some care. As things stand now, these people are no longer considered to be a burden and notably, the tag of misfortune is slowly fading away also. While the credit goes to a comprehensive change in the way the problem is looked at now, the discrimination against them on various fronts still exists which is equally unfortunate.
According to recent estimates, over a billion people worldwide are impacted by disability and the stigma surrounding it. As per World Health Organization, around 15% of the world’s population has some or the other form of disability, making disabled people the largest global minority. Continuous discrimination denies them equal access to education, employment, healthcare and other opportunities. The stigma attached to such persons, compounded by a lack of understanding of their rights, makes it difficult for them to attain their valued functioning, considered to be capabilities deemed essential for human development.
Furthermore, women and girls with disabilities are at a higher risk of experiencing sexual and other forms of gender-based violence.
Estimates by World Labour Organization paint a gloomy picture, especially regarding the people with mental disabilities, specially-abled women with disabilities, and those in rural areas, underlining that they are the most neglected.
These people in this part of the globe continue to be far behind the developed part of the world on various fronts. The society, and also at the level of the government, not enough has been done to integrate them into the system. Not much has been done to sensitise people from all walks of life on how to deal with these people. An all-inclusive approach is needed to ensure that specially-abled persons get equal opportunities in every aspect of life.
There is a need to ponder over our responsibilities towards each other and it is perhaps time to use this time as a catalyst for change and work together to ensure that all the persons with disabilities enjoy the full range of human rights.