Social Protection and Persons with Disabilities

Author: Catalina Devandas
Year: 2017

Social protection is an essential condition for social and economic development for all, but particularly for those who experience poverty and social exclusion. Social protection programmes can play a crucial role in alleviating and preventing poverty and vulnerability to secure people’s well-being. They can also enhance the productivity, employability and economic development of people by creating better income-earning opportunities for them. Moreover, social protection can foster social inclusion and participation by ensuring effective access to food, health care, education and support services. Thus, well-designed social protection programmes have the potential to directly improve the enjoyment of rights of persons with disabilities. Regrettably, traditional disability-welfare approaches have promoted the opposite, building and spreading charity and medical perspectives in social protection responses. As a result, for too long, many national social protection systems resulted in furthering paternalism, dependence, segregation and institutionalization of persons with disabilities, limiting their opportunities to live independently in their communities. The United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities challenges these views, promoting social protection systems that are inclusive of persons with disabilities and which facilitate active citizenship, social inclusion and community participation. The Convention calls on States parties to ensure that persons with disabilities receive equal access to mainstream social protection programmes and services as well as access to specific programmes and services for disability-related needs and expenses such as support services. Against this background, this article aims to discuss why and how States and other stakeholders should ensure the establishment of disability-inclusive social protection systems, in conformity with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.


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Social Protection and Human Rights