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Pakistan Will Fail To Reach Sustainable Development Goals Without Focus on Disability

Author: Cynthia Sohail(i) : Contact:

Published: 2021-01-12 : (Rev. 2021-01-16)

Synopsis and Key Points:

In Pakistan people with disabilities often have higher health care needs, but may find it difficult to access services.

Disability may mostly affect women, men, older people, LGBT community and households that are poor.

One of the most prominent features of SDGs is to remove poverty whereas in Pakistan people with disability mostly live in poverty.

Main Digest

In 2011 many changes have been noticed with the publication of the World Report on Disability by the WHO and the World Bank. This report has noticeably helped bring global attention to disability. This report provided evidence regarding how important disability is because of the large number of people affected, particularly in developing countries. It is evident by WHO about 80% of persons with disabilities live in developing countries or in low income countries like Pakistan, India, China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, where the number of people with disabilities will continue to rise over the coming decades with an increase in chronic conditions like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and stroke.

In Pakistan people with disabilities experienced inequalities even with the existence of laws and orders. Most children with disabilities do not attend school; the rate of unemployment among persons with disabilities is higher than others. Also, studies show that in Pakistan disabilities result from injuries and violence because persons with disabilities are more likely to be victims of violence or rape. Women and girls with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to abuse. In most of the cases women and girls with disabilities were beaten at home and a majority of women with intellectual disabilities have been raped.

Disability may mostly affect women, men, older people, LGBT community and households that are poor. People with disabilities often have higher health care needs, but may find it difficult to access services here in Pakistan. They mostly face a range of exclusions from employment, education, or other aspects of society. These exclusions are opposing to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which calls upon all countries to respect and ensure the full equal participation of all persons with disabilities to education, health and employment to achieve SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).

One of the most prominent features of SDGs is to remove poverty whereas in Pakistan people with disability mostly live in poverty. If someone might get a diagnose to have a disability but the environment (family, society, government) could give support to their needs, then the disability itself wouldn't interfere with their participation in daily activities. But due to society’s failure to respond to the needs of people with disabilities someone may have limited employment opportunities. Not because he/she cannot walk, but because offices are not set up to allow access to wheelchairs, or because she/he makes people feel uncomfortable or nervous. This COVID-19 pandemic can also increase the vulnerability of people with disabilities. People with disabilities were hit doubly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic due to the movement restrictions which resulted in economic downturn. There are few international organizations which have been providing financial assistance to families of people with disabilities. Meanwhile there is no evidence available on how many people with disabilities died because of Covid-19, how many got financial assistance by government, or how many got treatments and recovered.

Pakistan has made Disability Assessment Boards at each District Headquarter (DHQ) Hospital in the province for the issuance of this certificate. These assessment boards are overseen by the Punjab Social Welfare Department. This certificate is actually an approval that the person has a disability and after getting this certificate the person may obtain multiple benefits like 2.5% Employment Quota for Persons with Disabilities, 3.5% Discount on Air and Railway Fare for Persons with Visual Impairment, Free medical facilities and Pensions on retirement.

These advantages seems very helpful for people with disability but getting this certificate is a hard target for them because of a long procedure of obtaining proof of disability. Hence, most of the persons drop out their plans to get disability certificate because of long process, documentation, test and financial issue. This dropout is a major cause of the high poverty rate among people with disability. They don’t have money to travel to district hospital and sometimes their health condition is not well enough to travel.

Many people with disabilities have degrees and are capable of doing all professional task better than people without disabilities but because of discouragement from the society, family, and government they lose all the determination for a better future.

Getting jobs in the private sector is also very difficult and complex. Half of the disabled persons get rejected because of their physical appearance and sometimes because of speaking and intellectual issues. There are many agencies and special departments which documents working on disability issues in Pakistan but no sincere data available on disability.

The 2017 census shows that only 0.48 percent of the Pakistanis are persons with disability, assuming a population of 212.2 million. The 1998 census had put the percentage of people with disability at 2.49pc. How is it possible that this percentage has dropped to 0.48pc over the last 20-odd years? Well, this is a massive difference and the number of people with disabilities in the 2017 census is clearly a gross understatement.

People with disabilities have, on average, lower levels of education and employment, higher levels of poverty, and frequently face marginalization, discrimination, and violence. It is very important that the voices of people with disabilities are central when planning actions to make sure that these activities are appropriate and wanted.

There are lots of things that can be done to try to overcome this inequity, such as teacher training, providing assistive technologies, or making toilets accessible, open easy and competitive and non-competitive job opportunities for them.

(i)Source/Reference: Cynthia Sohail. Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith. Content may have been edited for style, clarity or length.

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