Empowering Disability Inclusion in India
Polity & Governance
9th Dec, 2023
The idea of empowerment and inclusion regarding Disability needs an orientation shift to provide more fruitful. From ‘For’ to ‘By’.
‘For’ and ‘By’:
- “For” is often used when a person is receiving something and “By” is to “identify the agent performing an action”.
- This difference is crucial when it comes to disability inclusion, as the approach is completely different if it is “by” persons with disabilities being a part of the process and not “for” them, without them in the process.
Ensuring inclusive opportunities and employment in rural areas is imperative, considering the majority of persons with disabilities reside in these regions.
Disability as a Multifaceted Challenge:
- Disability, as a complex amalgamation of social, economic, and gender vulnerabilities, demands nuanced approaches for equitable solutions.
- Globally, 1.3 billion people grapple with disabilities, with 80% residing in developing countries and 70% in rural areas.
- The existing systems often perpetuate exclusion, leading to heightened instances of poverty, limited educational access, and social and economic discrimination.
The Significance of 'By' in Disability Inclusion:
- Understanding the linguistic nuances, the term 'by' in disability inclusion signifies the active participation of persons with disabilities in the process, a departure from the passive 'for' them approach.
- This distinction is pivotal for fostering genuine inclusion.
The Economic Imperative of Inclusion:
- The International Labour Organization (ILO) underscores that integrating persons with disabilities into the economy can contribute to a global GDP boost of 3% to 7%.
- Despite the ideal of equal opportunities, the current employment landscape falls short, reinforcing stereotypes and hindering access to the job market.
- The current employment scenario is limited, providing fewer jobs for persons with disabilities and perpetuating stereotypes that create further barriers for people with disabilities to access the labour market.
- It is also in direct contravention of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which advocates changing attitudes and perceptions towards persons with disabilities and viewing inclusion from a social development dimension.
- Disability inclusion is rooted in assuring the rights of persons with disabilities and recognising the economic benefits of inclusion.
Challenges Amplified in Rural Areas:
- In India, governmental initiatives, such as the Unique ID for Persons with Disabilities (UDID) card, exist.
- However, awareness and last-mile connectivity remain crucial, especially in rural areas where challenges are exacerbated.
- Persons with disabilities in rural settings often face limited educational and employment opportunities and are viewed through a charitable lens, undermining their agency.
The Role of the Private Sector:
- Acknowledging the pivotal role of the private sector, a robust legal framework alone is insufficient.
- Engaging companies and building their confidence in hiring and retaining workers with disabilities is essential.
- Collaboration with employers’ federations and trade unions further enhances the potential for promoting disability inclusion.
The SPARK Project:
- The collaboration between ILO, IFAD, and the Women’s Development Corporation in Maharashtra manifests in the SPARK project.
- This initiative empowers persons with disabilities by training them as Disability Inclusion Facilitators (DIFs), fostering awareness, and breaking down barriers.
- The project has successfully instigated a positive shift in attitudes at societal and administrative levels.
Towards Social Justice:
- The goal of social justice necessitates the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all facets of development, starting with rural areas.
- Evidence underscores the bidirectional link between disability, poverty, nutrition, and hunger, emphasizing the need for inclusive opportunities and employment in rural regions.
- Amid historical marginalization and a setback in achieving Sustainable Development Goals, a profound commitment to prioritizing the voices and needs of persons with disabilities is paramount in global development agendas.