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In Nepal, as in many other countries, people with disabilities are one of the most excluded groups in society. Abuse and discrimination are a daily routine for many individuals with disabilities. Lacking adequate policies and legislation, they are effectively barred from realizing their rights to healthcare, education, employment and other fundamental requirements to conduct a decent life.
A recently released report “Living conditions among people with disability in Nepal: A National Representative Study” provides a comprehensive picture on the living conditions of people with disabilities in the country. Jointly carried out in partnership among the National Federation of Disabled in Nepal (NFDN), the Norwegian Federation of Organizations for Disabled People (FFO) and SINTEF, an international research institute, research was carried out in 59 districts and as many as 4,000 households were sampled, and the study is a representative household survey.
Evidence from the study indicates that there is a substantial gap in the access to health services by individuals with disabilities. The respondents with disabilities have a lower general well-being status compared to respondents without disabilities, the report states. More than 40 percent of the respondents stated that they did not receive health services when they needed them.
Availability, affordability, and accessibility of healthcare services are some of the key issues for people with disabilities in Nepal. Local level health institutions are incapable of identifying intellectual and other types of disabilities, depriving individuals with disabilities of timely treatment, according to disability rights activists. For instance, the majority of health institutions don’t have medical test facilities to diagnose autism yet. Similarly, many health institutions around the country are not disabled-friendly, and healthcare workers are not trained to interact with people with disabilities.
Healthcare workers are not trained to deal with cases of person with disabilities.
The study reveals ‘a substantial difference between individuals with and without disabilities in school attendance and literacy’. The difference in school attendance is more than 30 percentage points.
The percentage of school attendance among disabled children aged 5 and above was considerably lower than children without disabilities: 40.5 percent vs. 70.8 percent.
Among children with disabilities aged 5 to 10 years, 35 percent were not attending school, the report reads. This was much higher than the proportion of children without disabilities (only 5 percent) of the same age group. Additionally, 30 percent of children and youth with disabilities aged 11 to 20 years were not attending any educational institutions.
Among children with disabilities aged 5 to 10 years, 35 percent were not attending school, the report reads.
As many as 59.5 percent of children with disabilities aged five and above were recorded as “never attended school”, compared to 29 percent of children without disabilities in the control group. Out of the total respondents who never attended school, as many as 13.9 percent attributed their never attending school to lack of accessibility in the school.
Evidence from the report clearly demonstrates the difference between people with and without disabilities in terms of employment opportunities. The proportion of individuals with paid work is more than 60 percent higher among adults without disabilities.
Also the proportion of self-employed individuals is higher among the people without disabilities. Unemployment for health reasons is 24 percent among the respondents with disabilities and close to zero among those without disabilities. Among the latter, those reporting to be students were three times more than those in the group of people with disabilities, while homemakers were just above 20 percent of the respondents in both groups.
Interestingly, unemployment for health reasons appears to be higher among men with disabilities compared to women without disabilities, both in numbers and with regards to the ratio between disabled and non-disabled.
The report clearly shows that social transformation has not reached the desired level in relation to personal experiences of abuse and discrimination, both in the family and society, among respondents with disabilities.
24.2 percent of people with disabilities reported that they were have been or scolded by a family member. Several respondents also narrated episodes of abuse and discrimination outside the family, particularly when accessing public services.
Evidence from the study indicates that inaccessible working places, poor access to educational opportunities, inadequate skills development and vocational training, negative stereotypes about people with disabilities and their capacity, are some of the most relevant barriers experienced by people with disabilities in Nepal.
Transforming the lives of people with disability is not an easy task. While progress is being made towards the empowerment of people with disability, many barriers to the uplifting of their living conditions still remain. A collective effort and positive attitude are required to improve the living condition of individuals with disabilities and create a more just and equal society.
You can read the full report here.
[Cover photo: ©Andrea Pregel]
Pragya is a young and vibrant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) advocate. A Nepal-based development professional working on Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) and disability issues, she holds a Master’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) from Tribhuvan University. She began her career as a journalist. She was appointed by Nepal’s Ministry of Education’s Curriculum Development Center to rewrite journalism textbooks. She enjoys taking challenges, exploring new ideas, cultures, getting connected with development and communication professionals and building a network with people. Her research interests are: human rights, gender and development, menstrual issues and economic empowerment.
email: email@example.com, twitter: @pragyalamsal