It’s no secret that those of us who live in the United States of America enjoy a higher level of privilege thanks to our geographic location. Unlike the majority of other countries, Americans with disabilities are protected under certain ADA laws not to mention we have a plethora of resources and government programs available to provide much needed services.
Despite all that we have in the United States, many of us are still fighting for equal rights each and every day. But imagine what it must be like to be an individual with a disability outside of the USA and perhaps living in other areas of the world that do not provide citizens with the same level of programs, laws, and services.
The UN estimates that 80% of people with disabilities in the world live in developing countries while the World Bank estimates about 20% of the world’s poorest people have some type of disability and are typically regarded as the most disadvantaged. It is often this population that does not have access to good healthcare or even an education due to physical inaccessibility of schools or lack of medical equipment to enable them to leave their homes.
In addition to facing challenges such as inaccessibility and lack of education, many people with disabilities in developing countries face a level of stigma and discrimination that is difficult for us in the USA to imagine. Employment related discrimination against people with disabilities in a recurring theme throughout many cultures and societies. According to the International Labor Organization, unemployment among people with disabilities can be as high as 80%.
Females with disabilities face an even sharper double edged sword throughout the world. Women with disabilities not only face discrimination based on their disability but also gender stigma and barriers due to simply being born female.
In a shocking statistic by the UN, Women and girls with disabilities are found to be particularly vulnerable to abuse. According to the UN website, “a small 2004 survey in Orissa, India, found that virtually all of the women and girls with disabilities were beaten at home, 25 per cent of women with intellectual disabilities had been raped and 6 per cent of women with disabilities had been forcibly sterilized.”
To learn more about the real numbers facing people with disabilities across the globe, visit the UN’s website at http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=18
Are you someone with a disability who has firsthand experience about what life is like for the disabled community in other countries? Share your experience in the comments.