Equal rights and equal chances for disabled population

By Chen Boyuan
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, July 31, 2013
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In 2007, China made a commitment to equal rights for the disabled when it joined a United Nations convention pledging to do just that. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities concluded its sixth conference in July, during which time Macharia Kamau, Kenya's delegate to the UN, also the president of the Convention, called for "a much more inclusive place to live in."

Mr. Zhang Ce, native to Tianjin, is in his early thirties. He has been congenitally paralyzed since birth.[Photo/China.org.cn]

Mr. Zhang Ce, native to Tianjin, is in his early thirties. He has been congenitally paralyzed since birth.[Photo/China.org.cn] 

An inclusive world for the disabled is one where their rights are protected, their access to facilities is ensured and their educational and employment opportunities are widened.

UN statistics show there are more than one billion disabled people worldwide, including at least 780 million of working age. China Disabled Persons' Federation (CDPF), the country's central authority on the matter, put China's disabled population at 85.02 million.

That would mean there is approximately one disabled person per six households (15 Chinese people) based on the sixth nationwide population census in 2010. Official data also shows the number of disabled people in China has increased each year, but their proportion in the entire population has remained relatively fixed.

From nominal employment to real jobs

Disabled people belong to the most vulnerable group in society because of their physical or mental handicaps. In employment especially, the disabled population faces widespread discrimination and lack of access, which therefore limits the possibility of financial independence.

In common misperceptions, disabled people cannot and should not work. They are expected to live on charity donations, government assistance and family's support. But the fact is disabled people need employment as much, if not more than, their more able-bodied peers.

China has reported cheerful performance regarding disabled people's employment these past few years. The urban unemployment rate for the disabled dropped to 9.9 percent in 2011 from 13.6 percent in 2009, according to data from Communiqué on Development of Work on Disabled Persons in China 2012.

In 2012 alone, some 329,000 urban jobs were created for the disabled, raising the number of employed urban disabled people to 4.448 million; in the same year, 17.703 million disabled people in rural areas were at work, including 13.899 million doing farm work.

The optimistic figures, however, cannot cover individual gloom. Mr. Zhang Ce, native to Tianjin, is in his early thirties. He has been congenitally paralyzed since birth. He said he has a "nominal job" with a foreign-fund company, which pays him 500 yuan (US$80.6) in salary each month, but does not require him to do anything.

"All companies are required to employ a certain number of disabled people in line with national policies. The company pays me 6,000 yuan each year in order to circumvent the annual assistive fund of 20,000 yuan (US$3552.8)," Zhang said.

Zhang agreed that his "nominal employment" and small salary was still better than nothing. "In addition, they cover my social and medical insurances," he added.

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