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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

Poverty in Peru
Poverty in Peru declined steadily from 2001 to 2016, dropping from 55% to 21%. In 2017, the poverty rate rose slightly to 21 .7%. The relative success Peru has had in reducing poverty, however, is a result of economic growth along with increased and improved social programs and technological innovations. The Inter-American Foundation, which currently has 20 active projects in the nation, has made significant contributions to the reduction of poverty in Peru, having invested more than $5 million in the nation and directly benefiting more than 35,000 people.

The Situation in Peru

In Peru, one is in poverty if they have a monthly income of fewer than 338 soles (equal to $105). Poverty continues to be an issue in both urban and rural areas, with 44% of the impoverished population living in rural areas while the remaining 56% are located closer to urban centers. Those who are extremely poor tend to live in rural areas or on the very outskirts of the cities. Natural disasters, inadequate education and training and poor health care all contribute to poverty in Peru, making it a multi-dimensional problem.

One can at least partially attribute the recent increase in the poverty rate to political turmoil in the nation. Pedro Pablo Kuczynski entered office in 2016, and his policy decisions reflected a misunderstanding of Peru’s poverty and how best to reduce it. He resigned in March 2018, however, and his successor, Martín Vizcarra, has “declared the rise in poverty ‘unacceptable.” One will soon see how new leadership will affect Peru’s poverty rates in the coming years.

The Inter-American Foundation in Peru

While outside organizations cannot necessarily solve problems within Peru’s government, they can have an impact on improving the lives of Peruvians across the nation through targeted and effective investments and programming. The Inter-American Foundation, for example, has committed to investing in Peru by providing specific grants that are invested strategically to make the largest possible impact.

Congress created the Inter-American Foundation (IAF) in 1969 to act as an independent agency of the U.S. Government. The IAF focuses its efforts on reducing poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean, providing grants and creating partnerships with local organizations and governments. Rather than designing projects, the IAF invests in initiatives created by grassroots groups and communities, supporting local innovation.

The programs that the IAF supports in Peru employ a range of methods for various intended outcomes, although all have connections to efforts to reduce poverty in Peru. Program areas include leadership, education, job skills, enterprise development, agriculture, food security, legal assistance and inclusion. Most of these programs have funding from the IAF for periods of three to six years, with the amount of grant funding and the number of years the program will run determined at the outset. The IAF also estimates how many direct and indirect beneficiaries each grant will have.

Programs That the IAF Supports in Peru

One of the initiatives that the IAF supported most recently is the Asociación Peruana de Productores de Cacao (APPCACAO). It will receive $177,500 from the IAF and run from 2018 to 2020. This program aims to help cacao producers, who often lack the income needed to support their families. According to the IAF, APPCACAO will help “raise their income and quality of life by improving their production of fine flavor cacao and strengthening their management and governance practices to ensure greater participation of women and youth.” This will directly benefit 1,260 individuals and another 3,900 will receive indirect benefits as this program seeks to improve agriculture, food security, leadership, education, job skills and enterprise development.

The Asociación Grupo de Trabajo Redes (AGTR) is a program that also addresses the economic empowerment of women by focusing on female domestic workers. The IAF recognizes that these women are likely to have poor working conditions and low incomes. It, therefore, works to educate female domestic workers about their legal rights and helps to improve their negotiation skills, helping them find higher-paying jobs with humane working conditions. With an IAF investment of $240,000, this program will be active from 2017 to 2020, directly benefiting 2,600 individuals and indirectly benefiting 44,650.

A third program working to reduce poverty in Peru is the Asociación Kallpa para la Promoción de la Salud Integral y el Desarrollo (Kallpa), which focuses on reducing youth unemployment, including the unemployment of disabled youth. Youth includes anyone between the ages of 15 and 29, and the program provides the support necessary for young people to “find meaningful employment or start a small business.” The IAF has invested $554,390 in this program, which is expected to benefit 1,550 direct and 5,200 indirect individuals.

Looking Ahead

These programs provide a brief look at the work that the IAF has supported, highlighting its efforts to improve conditions for women and young people, decrease food insecurity, improve working conditions and reduce unemployment, all of which are vital to decreasing poverty in Peru. Notably, however, 11 out of the 20 active projects that the IAF is supporting were to end in 2018. People will soon know whether the IAF will continue to invest in as many projects in the future.

– Sara Olk
Photo: Flickr