By: Lekpele M. Nyamalon
No one should ever have to undergo discrimination based on conditions beyond his physical or mental power. Sadly, this has been the case in our World. Disability continues to be a tag that has affected thousands of equally, highly gifted and talented individuals. Infact, the world has known and seen some of the finest intellectuals who are considered disable due to physical or mental limitations.
Disability is defined as a physical or mental condition that limits a person's movements, senses, or activities. However, disability should not pose a barrier to opportunities that should exist for everyone. Everyone does have limitations in every sphere of life. Society has either looked the other way or has exhibited sheer neglect in meeting or incorporating people who are experiencing some kind of disability in today’s world. The truth is Everyone who sees the world and has an urge to make it a better place is never disable. Disability could only apply to those whose lack of drive or passion to make the world a better place. Ideally speaking, people living with physical impairments are able to contribute towards making our world a better place irrespective of those physically challenging conditions. When societies began to imagine and view them with clearer lenses, the lines of disability become blur and we’re all a wholesome society.
In essence, societies are the culprits for turning people with physical impairments into disable people. The shut doors, the outright discrimination, inconsideration either voluntarily or involuntarily make them susceptible to deprivations. Special motivational messages should be tailored to lifting the spirits of those living with such conditions and raise them to a pedestal of parity. No society should watch its potential citizens go down the drain due to physical conditions nor should they ignore contributions that could come from that segment. Societies tend to lose out or shortchange themselves when they ignore the contribution thereof.
According to the World Bank estimates, One billion people, or 15 % of the world’s population, experience some form of disability, and disability prevalence is higher for developing countries. One-fifth of the estimated global total, or between 110 million and 190 million people, experience significant disabilities.
The report also estimates that persons with disabilities, on average as a group, are more likely to experience adverse socioeconomic outcomes than persons without disabilities, such as less education, worse health outcomes, less employment, and higher poverty rates.
Such conditions have long-term burden on a country’s GDP, per capital income and overall economic growth. Societies can either decide to curb the trend or allow its persistence. Children born to disable parents who go without skills and adequate training become like their parents or worse down the economic scale. The decline could worsen from generation to generation. Societies, then allows a vicious cycle of poverty and disillusionment to persist.
Take education for example, if societies ensure that every ‘disable’ person gets a marketable skill and is integrated into society, the poverty gap would become smaller over time thus reducing/breaking the cycle. The reverse is the addition of more illiterates, desperately poor and dependent persons on the decline of the socio-economic ladder. This poses a burden on poor countries and societies in general.
On the other hand, societies don’t have to go through that. They can begin to empower those with the greatest risk of vulnerability and begin to institute measures to curb dependency by investing in the lives of those with physical or mental limitations. Education remains the greatest tool that can liberate a group of people from socio-economic disadvantages and deprivations. Education provides an outlet and gives wings to people from anywhere to fly. The continued neglect of people with physical disability to fend for themselves is making the world a difficult place for people and the overall good of societies.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development clearly states that disability cannot be a reason or criteria for lack of access to development programming and the realization of human rights. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework includes seven targets which explicitly refer to persons with disabilities and six further targets on persons in vulnerable situations which include persons with disabilities. We can choose to ignore all the opportunities available to lift up people perceived as disable or the circus of disillusionment would continue. It doesn’t have to.
Author's Statement: Lekpele M. Nyamalon is the founder of Africa’s Life, a Poet, Writer and Pan Africanist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org