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4 June 2017

Decent Work for all, including people with disabilities.

Persons with disabilities make up 15% of the world’s population. We understand disability as being the result of impairments in interaction with barriers that hinder full participation in society. The impairment might be physical, mental, sensory or intellectual, and could be acquired at birth, later in life, or through accident or disease. Barriers might be attitudinal or environmental, and often these barriers are socially constructed in some sense.

In many countries and contexts, disability is often understood as “inability to work”. This idea needs to be challenged directly. Persons with disabilities have shown they can work productively in all sectors and contexts. Even in difficult circumstances, where they have faced discrimination and social exclusion and do not have the support of services, there are still many cases of persons with disabilities working productively.

Furthermore, the right of persons with disabilities to decent work without discrimination is established both through universal human rights’ frameworks that determine the right of all to work, as well as through the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which specifically targets disability-related discriminations.

Persons with disabilities are a very diverse group, and so the pathways into decent work are often very different. Men and women with disabilities face different barriers and different societal expectations about their educations and careers. Many people acquire their disabilities through their working lives. Supporting them and removing barriers they face will enable to maintain and grow in their work.

Trade unions are working all over the world on disability issues. A recent research conducted by the ILO captures and summarizes trade union action on disability from over 50 countries, including developed, emerging and developing economies. BWI and a number of its affiliates in the region of Latin America and the Caribbean bring an important contribution to this research and reaffirm their interest to work forward on this matter in the region.