What is disability?
Impairments are part of the human condition and almost everyone will be temporarily or permanently impaired at some point in their lives, with the type, degree and impact of this impairment varying from person to person.
The United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognises disability as an evolving concept and states that ‘persons with disabilities’ are those who have physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments, which, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others. It identifies the experience of disability is complex, multidimensional and dynamic; critically, it also highlights that disability is understood as an ‘interaction’, not solely as impairment. It recognises that persons are disabled by external factors such as environmental or attitudinal barriers as well as by their health condition.
Why is disability inclusion important?
- Persons with disabilities make up one billion people -about 15% of the world’s population- making them the world’s largest and most disadvantaged minority. They may face social, economic and cultural barriers limiting their access to full and effective participation in a society, including economic development, education, employment and health services.
- Women and girls with disabilities are 4 to 10 times more likely to experience gender-based violence than those without disabilities.
- Children with disabilities are more than twice likely not to attend school than others.
What are we doing?
As required by the latest resolution promoting disability inclusion (Sydney, 2013), the RCRC Movement is developing a strategy on Disability Inclusion to provide specific directions in order to:
- ensure that all actions are non-discriminatory towards persons with disabilities,
- increase participation of persons with disabilities across the Movement, and
- promote disability inclusive practices throughout all of its work.
All components of the Movement aim to build their own capacities and mobilise resources to better involve and support persons with disabilities as well as address barriers hampering their participation, thus working towards an inclusive society in which all persons can achieve their full potential.
A central pillar in the Movement’s work on the inclusion of persons with disabilities is based on the principle of ‘nothing about us without us’. This means the Movement will actively engage, involve and seek out the views and opinions of persons with disabilities in all relevant aspects of its work.
Whilst this strategy is being developed, there are other initiatives aimed at promoting disability inclusion. For instance, the IFRC has recently developed guidelines for Disability-Inclusive shelter and settlements in emergencies, IFRC.
In the Cambodian Red Cross Society, youth and volunteers are including persons with disabilities in the forefront of their activities on road safety. They are encouraging young persons with disabilities to be peer educators in their campaigns to prevent accidents and the potential disabilities that may result.
The Australian Red Cross welcomes more than 1,400 disadvantaged job seekers into productive, rewarding employment opportunities each year. For example, two Red Cross warehouse operations in Queensland provide people with a disability or other barriers consistent employment opportunities. See more on the video below.
Resolution on disability
- Eliminating barriers, increasing inclusion (Arabic, French, Spanish), IFRC Principles and Values department on International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 December 2014
- The Red Cross Red Crescent is perfectly placed to support and empower people with disabilities, (French, Spanish, Arabic) Dr. Katrien Beeckman, Head, Principles and Values department, IFRC on International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 December 2013
- Rights of persons with disabilities, Statement by Michael Schulz, Deputy Permanent Observer to the United Nations, Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, New York, USA, 30 October 2007.
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol, United Nations (2006)
- World Report on disability, World Health Organisation (2011)
- Community-Based Rehabilitation guidelines, Word Health Organisation (2012)
- Inclusion made easy: A quick program guide to disability in development, CBM (2012)
- A new global partnership: Eradicate Poverty and transform economies through sustainable development. The Report of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, United Nations (2013).
- Report of the Expert Group Meeting on Prevention of Violence against Women and Girls, UN Women in cooperation with ESCAP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and WHO (2012)
- Disability Framework Leaving No one Behind, Department for International Development, UKAid (2014)