Disability in IranAccording to a survey published in the Iranian Journal of Public Health, the prevalence of disabilities stands at 13.5 per 1,000 individuals in the population. This means that approximately 1.35% of the population in Iran is living with at least one type of disability. People with disabilities represent a significant and often overlooked minority within the population. More concerning, the occurrence of disabilities is higher in rural areas than in urban areas and exhibited a higher prevalence among men compared to women. Poorer provinces in Iran exhibited a higher prevalence of disabilities such as blindness, deafness, vocal disorders and hand disorders compared to wealthier provinces, and individuals with disabilities experienced lower socio-economic status in comparison to those without disabilities.

Neglecting the Disabled: A Deep-Seated Issue Beyond Sanctions

While Iranian officials often point to international sanctions as the cause of their nation’s hardships, it is evident that the neglect of disabled individuals predates these measures. Blaming external factors only highlights their lack of attention to the issue.  

Even if sanctions were lifted, there’s little assurance that meaningful change would occur. The lack of action thus far casts doubt on the government’s commitment to rectify the situation for people with disabilities. 

Blind Heroine Defies Odds: Empowering Iran’s Fight Against COVID-19

Samaneh Shabani, a remarkable 30-year-old, experienced firsthand the challenges COVID-19 posed to a blind individual, which disrupted her primary sensory connections to the world. Undeterred by her disability or societal prejudices, Samaneh has remained resolute in pursuing her goals. With a master’s degree from the prestigious University of Tehran and a recently defended Ph.D. dissertation on “Violence Against Women with Disabilities and their Access to Justice,” she is now a dedicated law lecturer and a passionate advocate for people with disabilities during this crisis. Through her internship at UNIC Tehran and her work with the Tavana NGO, she actively communicates accurate information and strives to change public perceptions, addressing the real concerns of those with disabilities. 

Samaneh’s unwavering commitment to an inclusive society is evident as she bridges the gap between the NGO and the UNIC, emphasizing the importance of verified information and direct community engagement. While acknowledging the limitations her blindness imposes on certain activities, she remains pragmatic, calling for actionable changes by governments, the private sector, civil society and individuals to create a more accessible world. This pandemic has taught her the significance of unity and kindness in ensuring that no one is left behind. 

MOHAM: Empowering Lives through Accessible Solutions

MOHAM, a non-governmental organization, was established a little less than half a decade ago to address inaccessibility in Iran. According to one member, “MOHAM” means “supporter” in Persian and “lawyer” in Arabic, and they rely on self-support for their operations. While MOHAM hasn’t achieved the comprehensive infrastructure overhaul it aimed for, the NGO provides a variety of small but impactful services that significantly improve individuals’ lives. Some of these services include free home improvements, such as widening door frames to allow wheelchair passage without difficulty. 

A volunteer explains that enlarging a door might not appear significant, but it can be unaffordable for families with financial constraints and caring for a sick family member. MOHAM steps in to support these families by performing these small acts of kindness for them. Additionally, MOHAM collaborates with other charities helping to eliminate poverty and disability in Iran. The organization conducts workshops in various cities, educating people about diverse types of disabilities and appropriate ways to interact with and offer support to disabled individuals. According to an attendee, this type of training is not provided by the government, and it falls upon private and non-governmental organizations like MOHAM to take the initiative. 

Looking Ahead

Amid the challenges that Iran’s disabled population faces, individuals like Samaneh Shabani are proving the power of resilience and advocacy. Samaneh’s determination, displayed through her academic achievements and active engagement, highlights the potential to drive positive change for people with disabilities. Organizations like MOHAM are also making meaningful strides by addressing inaccessibility issues through small but impactful services that directly improve lives. These stories illustrate that, despite existing disparities, there are individuals and groups working toward creating a more inclusive and supportive society for those with disabilities in Iran.

– Negar Borhani
Photo: Unsplash

Disability and Poverty in PeruPeople with disabilities in Peru face their own personal challenges every day, but the country has received praise for its efforts to alleviate the challenges resulting from disability and poverty in Peru. Nancy Gamarra, the Vice Minister for Women’s Affairs and Vulnerable Peoples, declared a commitment toward enabling Peruvians with disabilities to ‘fully flourish,’ through legislation and regulated mechanisms. This is evidence of movement in the right direction. 

3 Key Facts To Know About Disability and Poverty in Peru

Persons with disabilities are classified as anyone who is in a state of vulnerability. With this classification, amongst the indigenous population and migrant population, there is a lack of data that identifies the portion of people with disabilities within these groups. Thus, as the country pushed for improvements in the rights of everyone with a disability, it faced a challenge when ensuring the operations took a fair and intersectional approach to the issue. 

There is a close link between disability and poverty in Peru and the older population. According to a recent study, while the older population in extreme poverty is more likely to have a disability, they have limited access to health care services. The study defined disability as ADL disability where the individual’s activities of daily living would be impacted. Results of the study established that more than 60% of people with ADL disability had never been evaluated for preventative measures. Additionally, older Peruvians with an ADL disability had significantly less chance of having insurance compared to individuals without a disability. 

Interestingly, half of Peruvians with disabilities are of working age, representing an estimated 1 million people. Unfortunately, their unemployment rate is 12.1%, in stark contrast to the overall population’s unemployment rate of 3.7%.

Movement in the Right Direction

In 2009, the National Institute for Radio and Television established the ‘No Barriers’ program with the mission to promote the visibility of Peruvians with disabilities and ensure disability was no longer considered a hindrance. As part of this program, broadcast television introduced sign language interpretation to make information accessible to individuals with disabilities. This initiative contributed to shaping public policy on appropriate language around disability.

A decade later, in 2019, Peru implemented the National Gender Equality Policy, aligned with its human rights obligations outlined in the National Agreement. The policy aims to address discrimination against women and its root causes. Its goals include reducing violence against women, increasing women’s participation in decision-making and eradicating sociocultural patterns of discrimination in the country’s population. The policy aims to achieve these objectives by 2030, with indicators such as a 40% increase in women’s representation in Congress. Notably, emergency centers for women now cover 100% of the nation, reflecting the progress so far under this policy.

The focus of this policy is on women’s rights, but it has also shed light on broader issues of structural discrimination and lack of diversity, including disability and poverty in Peru. A significant recent achievement in addressing disability and poverty is the launch of the Multisectoral Public Policy on Disability for Development in 2021.

The Multisectoral Public Policy on Disability for Development

This policy will be implemented in 2030, marking the first national public policy focused on disability. Since its implementation, a progress report has recognized the success of the policy. For example, 127 penalties were received by businesses that had an insufficient number of persons with disabilities employed. In addition to this, Peru introduced a protocol to ensure public services can provide appropriate accommodation to persons with disabilities. 

Peru’s government mission is to set a new standard for the inclusion and understanding of persons with disabilities within the next seven years.

Positive change is also evident in the work of the Adecco Foundation and its contact with Peruvian companies. The Adecco Group, as part of its work, campaigns for inclusivity in employment globally and one of its partners is the International Labour Organization’s Global Business and Disability Network. With this, the President of the Adecco Group, in consultation with 30 Peruvian companies, shared human resources management practices with a particular acknowledgment of the circumstances of people with disabilities. Findings from this network recognize how improving diversity in employment also benefits businesses. A specialist in ILO’s Bureau for Employers’ Activities, Villamil, explains ‘the inclusion of these people improves the work climate, teamwork, elimination of stereotypes, increased innovation and improved corporate reputation.

It is clear that the country has made promising progress in addressing the relationship between disability and poverty in Peru. With government intervention and companies following suit, Peru’s journey to a more inclusive country spurs reasons for hope.

– Poppy Harris
Photo: Unsplash