More than 60% of Syrian refugee households include a person with disability, and 1/5 of refugees in Lebanon and Jordan have a disability, according to a new study by HI and iMMAP. The survey ran from 2017-2018, and so far has resulted in two reports, four fact sheets and a Data Dashboard that provide statistical figures on people with disabilities among Syrian refugees and their access to humanitarian aid.
Jessica with retired Senator Harkin in his Washington, D.C. office. (photo above)
More than one billion people on our planet have a disability—yet most still struggle to escape discrimination. The U.S. has been the world leader in promoting the rights of people with disabilities—until recently.
You can help change this.
An international disability rights treaty based on The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), aims to promote human rights and protections for people with disabilities around the globe. The world counts 173 ratifications/accessions to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)—but not the U.S.
In 2012, despite broad bi-partisan support, the U.S. Senate failed to ratify the CRPD by just five votes. It hasn't come to a floor vote since.
Call on your Senators to support the CRPD. Your name will be delivered in person to the Washington, D.C., offices of Senators to convince them it is the right thing to do.
Sign below to say:
I support the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. I urge you, and your fellow Senators, to support the disability treaty when it next comes to debate and a vote.
Ratification of the CRPD is free. Ratification does not change U.S. law. Ratification tells the world that the U.S. is serious about protecting the rights of people with disabilities.
Please, Senator, lend your support to the U.S. joining the disability treaty.
Decent, salaried jobs in developing countries are rarely an option for people with disabilities, according to a new white paper, Situation of wage employment for people with disabilities: ten developing countries in focus. The result is that people with disabilities are denied one of their fundamental rights—the right to employment.
Over the past six months, Handicap International researchers examined 24 of the 30 developing countries where the international NGO runs inclusive livelihoods projects, and then put ten countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia under the microscope to determine if people with disabilities are landing decent, freely chosen jobs.
The findings are stark. “Individuals with disabilities are being systematically excluded from the opportunity to earn a living wage,” said Herve Bernard, head of the inclusion unit for Handicap International. “If they do land jobs, they almost always earn less money than their colleagues without disabilities. Exclusion of people with disabilities from work is simply unacceptable.”
Handicap International produced the paper for the first annual Harkin International Disability Employment Summit, which takes place Dec. 8 and 9, in Washington, DC. The Summit gathers more than 180 government officials, professionals with disabilities, business and civil society leaders, and activists from 30 countries to shine light on effective laws, policies and programs, and to find ways to create more job opportunities for people with disabilities. Handicap International is a member of the Summit planning committee.
“The Harkin Summit is the first time we’ve brought so many global stakeholders together to focus exclusively on making workplaces more inclusive to people with disabilities,” said Bernard. “It’s paramount that we work together to help people with disabilities secure decent jobs, wherever they happen to live.”
People with disabilities account for 15% of the world’s population, or 1 billion people, according to the World Report on Disability. Eighty percent of people with disabilities live in developing countries. Yet good data on disability are hard to come by. Of the 24 countries surveyed, only China, Egypt, the Philippines, and Senegal devote a section of their national census to measuring employment rates of people with disabilities. The result is a murky understanding of the true economic impact of their exclusion.
Globally, fewer than 20% of people with disabilities are working, according to the International Labour Organization. This exclusion stems from a wide variety of barriers, including physical and structural barriers at work, and high levels of discrimination in regard to their ability to work. Also, too few schools and training centers welcome students with disabilities, hindering their job readiness.
Stereotypes about people with disabilities permeate the labor markets in developing countries. The paper notes that in West Africa, government representatives and senior business leaders said that if they did hire someone with a disability, they were motivated first by pity, and second by someone’s professional qualifications. Such discrimination not only denies people from a chance to support themselves and their families, but also to socialize with colleagues in a workplace.
There are strong links between disability and poverty. Most jobs for people with disabilities in the study were in the informal sector, and wages are far lower for people with disabilities. Tunisians with disabilities, for instance, were earning 40% less than their people who didn’t have a disability, according to the paper. And in Colombia, a law states that companies cannot pay people with disabilities less than 50% of the minimum wage in sheltered workshops. The wage gap in formal sectors also worsened for women with disabilities.
The paper found room for hope. Some local stakeholders, corporations, and service providers have established good policies and initiatives to provide more opportunities to people with disabilities. The ten-year-old United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, now ratified by 168 states, or three-quarters of the world’s nations, is giving people with disabilities more access to their basic human rights than ever before.
“We hope this paper will be the first piece of a more comprehensive data set and bank of best practices, so that more individuals with disabilities can enjoy decent work worldwide,” added Bernard.
Handicap International and the advancement of the rights of people with disabilities
Handicap International provides support to funding bodies, governments, and NGOs to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in society, by building their capacities in the field of inclusive education, inclusive employment, humanitarian response, functional rehabilitation, social inclusion, and so on. The organization supports the development of disabled people’s organizations (DPOs) to ensure they effectively advance their rights. Handicap International has formed partnerships with more than 400 DPOs locally, nationally, and regionally. The organization is currently implementing 40 projects to help them organize their efforts, conduct advocacy, and monitor the advancement of the rights of people with disabilities.
About Handicap International
Handicap International is an independent international aid organization working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict, and disaster for nearly 35 years. Working alongside people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, our action and testimony are focused on responding to their essential needs, improving their living conditions, and promoting respect for their dignity, and basic rights. Since its founding in 1982, Handicap International has set up development programs in more than 60 countries and intervenes in numerous emergency situations. The network of eight national associations (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States) works constantly to mobilize resources, jointly manage projects and to increase the impact of the organization’s principles and actions. Handicap International is one of six founding organizations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), the co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, and the winner of the 2011 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize. Handicap International takes action and campaigns in places where “living in dignity” is no easy task.
US Government: endorse new Charter on “Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action”
The following letter was sent to Secretary John Kerry on May 19, urging the U.S. to showcase its strong leadership role on the inclusion of persons with disabilities at the upcoming World Humanitarian Summit, and to sign a new Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action. The text of the letter follows:Read more
I recently had the opportunity to interview Julia McGeown, HI’s technical advisor for inclusive education. Julia helps oversee the organization’s efforts to promote the inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream schools in 25 countries. These programs are close to my heart, not only because I visited HI’s program in Ethiopia in 2013, but also because I also benefitted from being included in public schools in the U.S.Read more
Although all children have the right to an education, 32 million children with disabilities are not enrolled in school. HI has launched a #school4all campaign to ensure schools are accessible to everyone. This is a priority for HI, which works in 31 countries to help 144,000 children receive an education.
Every child, including children with disabilities, has the right to an education.
Many factors contribute to the exclusion of children with disabilities, including discrimination, inaccessible school buildings, a lack of accessible transportation, and a lack of trained teachers and special education resources. Exclusion from education further perpetuates the vicious cycle of disability and poverty.
Humanity & Inclusion works to change these perceptions and opens doors to schools for children and young people with disabilities through the promotion of inclusive education. In fact, in 2017, HI donors gave access to education to 144,604 children with disabilities.
HI has been working in the field of education since 1998, and in the inclusive education sector since 2004. Its work focuses particularly on children with disabilities—the most vulnerable and excluded young learners in the world, in low-income countries and in development and emergency contexts. HI aims to strengthen the enrollment of children and young adults with disabilities in school, as part of an inclusive approach.
The need for inclusive education has been given strong backing at an international level: one of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for 2030 is to "ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning."
Projects in 31 countries
HI implements projects in West, Central, North and East Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The organization also implements regional actions covering nine countries in West Africa and three countries in the Maghreb.
Humanity & Inclusion aims to
- Increase the number of children with disabilities enrolled in mainstream schools or receiving home or community based schooling, who continue their education and successfully complete their schooling
- Improve their integration with other children and participation in social activities as part of their education
- Increase the number of teachers trained in inclusive education and strengthen their skills to meet the learning needs of children with disabilities
- Improve the mainstreaming of disability in national level education policies
Three activity areas: community, services (educational, social, etc.) and policies
- HI provides direct support to children with disabilities and their families by working with communities. In conjunction with local partners (disabled people's organizations, neighborhood associations, and so on), HI visits villages, identifies out-of-school children with disabilities, makes parents aware of the importance of educating their children, and how to support them.
- HI builds the capacities of staff in education, social and health services: the organization ensures that schools provide appropriate infrastructure (such as access ramps, adapted toilets and special adapted chairs for children with physical disabilities), teachers with disability training, and rehabilitation support for children with disabilities.
- HI helps ministries develop more inclusive national education policies that take into account disability issues.