People with Disabilities Deserve Equal Rights and Equal Participation in Society
December 3 Marks International Day of Persons with Disabilities
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities, begun by the UN in 1992, is observed each year on December 3. Its aim is to “promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.” Some 12 million individuals in Iran, out of a population of 82 million, are people with disabilities, and they face obstacles and discrimination in all walks of life. Inaccessible roads, public transportation and public buildings, including health, education and government facilities, are the norm throughout the country, even in the capital. This inaccessibility, combined with discrimination and severe social stigma surrounding disability, leads many people with disabilities in Iran to face lives of profound isolation. The 60 percent unemployment rate for this community is five times higher than the national rate. Meanwhile, state disability pensions do not even begin to cover a fraction of daily living costs in Iran—and the vast majority (97 percent) of people with disabilities receive no disability pension at all. The main state organizations charged with their welfare, the State Welfare Organization and the Special Education Organization, are underfunded, poorly staffed and usually inaccessible as well. They provide few support services, leaving most people with disabilities completely dependent upon the care and assistance of family members. Iran adopted the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2009, but does not implement its measures. There is a significant amount of work to do to protect and promote the rights and equal standing of people with disabilities in Iran.
This essay is reprinted from the Center for Human Rights in Iran book ,Days to Remember: International Human Rights Days and the Pursuit of Human Dignity in Iran.