he opinions expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy, diversity, inclusion and sustainability expert.
Australian Chief Minister Award winner
“excellence of making inclusion happen”
The COVID-19 pandemic, in the first half-year of its existence, has impacted the lives of most people on Earth in one way or another. It is the first truly global pandemic in modern times and each of us has been forced to grapple with its effects, both individually and collectively. persons with disabilities around the world continue to be disproportionately affected and feel the heat.
With this notwithstanding, the negative societal effects COVID-19 has wrought is written all over the world, in many cases, been even more profound when viewed through the lens of persons with disabilities and these impacts have been aggravated even further in countries dealing with humanitarian crisis.
Furthermore, Persons with disabilities living in humanitarian set ups already deal with increased health challenges, exacerbated threats to their security, and societal marginalization that negatively impacts nearly every facet of their lives. In some cases, that marginalization comes from misconceptions that disability is somehow contagious and should be shunned; more frequently, though, it is the result of the broad assumption that persons with disabilities must be cared for and kept in restrictive environments for their “protection” — robbing them of basic dignity and the fundamental opportunity to explore and realize their personal potential. Though disability inclusion efforts have started to gain global momentum in recent years in several countries in which the international NGOS and local partners work.
now with the current new trends of the Covid pandemic and its attendant social restrictions — persons with disabilities in these fragile contexts are at risk of being pushed even further to the periphery of their communities, potentially negating any progress that had been made.
In other words, I opine persons with disabilties can’t experience the ne norm since Corona has even worsen the situation.
Despite being a population that is particularly-risk prone to COVID-19, persons with disabilities face even greater inequalities in accessing basic services including healthcare, education, employment and social protection during the pandemic. This could erode all the positive developments that the world has recorded in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
While there are certainly very legitimate Covid-related health concerns specific to persons with disabilities affect the immune system, lung function or other related factors that can put them at higher risk for serious complications.
Additionally, the lack of latest data statistics also contributes to the poor outcomes on planning and service delivery to both development and humanitarian sectors.
More over most of the service delivery tend to focus on one particular disability and thus marginalization of the marginalized.
For instance, most of the time persons with psychosocial and intellectual impaired are not considered in different activities.
In accessing information its also highly pronounced among the Blind, Deaf blind etc.
– perhaps the bigger, less personally-controllable risks they face are related to the very seclusion from which they have spent so many years trying to break free. Just as they have begun to find the first tiny openings in their ability to access education or gain regular employment or even play sports, the isolation necessitated by the pandemic threatens to slam those doors closed once again. The real danger, though, is that the doors will remain closed even after the pandemic is under control because its imminent threat will have caused societies already reeling from the instability of war and conflict to forget about prioritizing the inclusion of persons with disabilities and building into their culture.
As a public policy diversity and inclusion expert I take note of for persons with disabilities, the ability to achieve economic security and independence has very often been a goal kept out of reach by a variety of societal assumptions about their ability – or inability – to reliably fulfill professional requirements, their perceived increased rate of health-related absences or a host of other preconceptions. Now, just as these misconceptions are starting to be proven wrong by persons with disabilities more often entering the work forces in many countries, the economic impact of the pandemic on the global and local economies could be devastating for their collective progress.
The sustainable development goal theme of not living any one behind might become a mirage if nations don’t take necessary measures to caution men, boys, girls and women with disabilties.
I affirm what is necessary to stop this temporary barrier from becoming a long-term regression is the commitment from all sections of society – governments, employers, educational institutions, healthcare providers, among others – in countries all over the world to continue prioritizing disability inclusion efforts. This is not only essential to create opportunities for persons with disabilities, but it will also benefit societies, economies, business, etc., by bringing the vast potential of a population estimated at over 1 billion people into the fold. Many studies have shown that companies and organizations that prioritize hiring persons with disabilities have a positive impact on profits and better corporate culture. For example, U.S. companies that excel at disability employment and inclusion are four times more likely to deliver higher shareholder returns than their competitors, according to a 2018 study by Accenture.
only way real change will happen is if they are supported by the commitment of the broader societies in which they work.
Disability inclusion will survive the coronavirus pandemic only if everyone believes it is a necessary social evolution and acts accordingly to support its growth. If this can happen, not only will people with disabilities transcend the societal impacts of COVID-19, but the communities, businesses, universities and organizations that push for their inclusion will grow and improve as well.