Disability and Poverty? The continuous mismatch.

Disability is a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities. In spite of limitations and obstacles, different persons with different disabilities seek a more independent and factual living.

17th October is designated International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty can be traced back to 17 October 1987. On that day, over a hundred thousand people gathered at the Trocadéro in Paris , where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948, to honour the victims of extreme poverty, violence and hunger. They proclaimed that poverty is a violation of human rights and affirmed the need to come together to ensure that these rights are respected. These convictions are inscribed in a commemorative stone unveiled on this day. Since then, people of all backgrounds, beliefs and social origins have gathered every year on October 17th to renew their commitment and show their solidarity with the poor.

In a world characterized by an unprecedented level of economic development, technological means and financial resources, that millions of persons are living in extreme poverty is a moral outrage. Poverty is not solely an economic issue, but rather a multidimensional phenomenon that encompasses a lack of both income and the basic capabilities to live in dignity.

Persons living in poverty experience many interrelated and mutually reinforcing deprivations that prevent them from realizing their rights and perpetuate their poverty, including varying conditions and varying environment.

Persons with disabilities are more likely to face the consequence of living in poverty due to marginalisation. It is often stated that disability is “both a cause and consequence of poverty’ and poverty and disability ‘reinforce each other, contributing to increased vulnerability and exclusion” Disability accentuates poverty because the systemic institutional, environmental and attitudinal barriers that people with disabilities encounter in their daily lives result in their entrenched social exclusion and their lack of participation in society.

This leads to:

  • discrimination, social marginalisation and isolation;
  • insufficient access to education, adequate housing, nutritious food, basic sanitation, healthcare and financial security;
  • lack of ability to participate fully in legal and political processes; and
  • lack of preparation for and meaningful inclusion in the workforce

Disability can reduce people’s earning potential. Yet someone with a disability ‘might need a higher income to achieve the same level of functioning as a nondisabled person’ to meet additional costs resulting from disability (e.g. cost of assistive devices or personal support)

Direct costs may be low due to the unavailability of services and goods (e.g. medical care, assistive devices), which may in turn limit opportunities and wellbeing. Poor people with disabilities are less likely to earn their way out of poverty as a result of the work and education related barriers they face

Eradication and improvement

Eradication will hail from continuous amendments. Starting with inclusion and a legal framework providing a complete and unbiased approach to assisting and empowering persons with disabilities. Accessible healthcare and an inclusive employment should be the blueprint to assess the improvement of persons with disabilities and how far they make their way out of the poverty loop.

Soovan Sharma DOOKHOO

Applied Knowledge Sciences

Research Journals

United Nations Data

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