RI Global Press Release: RI Intervenes at CSocD55 High-Level Meeting on Disability

4 February 2017

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RI Global: Office of Communications

Contact: Adrian Brune, +1 347-759-9501

Persons with disabilities are at greater risk of poverty than persons without disabilities in both developed and developing countries, panelists at the Commission on Social Development concluded today, as they aimed for solutions to mainstream disability in poverty reduction efforts mandated by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In a high-level meeting and panel on the issue, speakers and NGOs received an overview of the international policy framework on disability and development and how it relates to poverty reduction; identified challenges in poverty reduction for persons with disabilities (PwDs); shared good practices in poverty reduction for PwDs; and discuss recommendations for achieving SDG 1 for PwDs). The UN General Assembly has been promoting the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in society and development for many decades, but panelists, such as Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Special Rapporteur on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, heard that promotion didn’t necessarily always translate into action.


“A rights based approach would level the playing field in terms of people with disabilities by ensuring that adequate resources are made available for universal design, accessible technology and coordinate public-private programmes and services to facilitate the meaningful participation of disabled people as contributing members in the development of their communities,” said RI Global Secretary-General Venus Ilagan in front of the panel. “Persons with disabilities have so much to offer in terms of contribution, but they have to be provided reasonable accommodation and support to be able to harness their potential.”

In developing countries, many persons with disabilities are at risk of poverty because they are more likely to be part of the informal economy, or even when employed, less likely to
have long-term career prospects. In developed countries, the income of persons with disabilities has been 12 per cent lower than the national average and as much as 30 per cent lower than those without disabilities.

Many persons with disabilities also experience extra costs associated with disability, such as transportation, health care, modified residences, personal assistance and assistive devices — these costs can reach approximately a third of an average income, which increases the risk of poverty.

“A vast majority of persons with disabilities is systematically set aside and this abandonment is not only detrimental to them, but to society as a whole,” said Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. “The cost of exclusion is very high, not only for persons with disabilities and their families, but also for national economies and our shared prosperity.

“According to the Convention, we need to consider disability-related issues in all public policies and programmes, and ensure that persons with disabilities participate in their design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. While seemingly obvious, this is far from being the case today; and to do this would represent a major paradigm shift in the approach towards persons with disabilities, both from a human rights perspective, and from a development one.”

Ilagan told the panel that there were practical examples of initiatives on including PwDs in development and that those examples needed sharing to eliminate the need to “reinvent the wheel, a plain and simple case of wasting resources.” She added that employment for PwDs offered them the opportunity to escape the poverty trap.


“As we go into high-gear in the implementation of Agenda 2030, this is a rare opportunity that cannot be missed if we are to include persons with disabilities in realizing the goal of development for all.”

Before the meeting, The DSPD of DESA rolled out the Toolkit on Disability for Africa designed to provide practical tools on various disability-related issues to government officials and disabled persons organizations (DPOs) in the the African context.


RI Global: Founded in 1922, Rehabilitation International (RI Global) is a worldwide network promoting the rights and inclusions of persons with disabilities (PwDs) through advocacy, habilitation and rehabilitation to achieve an inclusive world in which all people can enjoy full human rights.

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