An estimated 1 billion people across the globe have a disability, with 80 % of this number living in developing countries. Persons with disabilities are often the poorest and most vulnerable in their communities and face significantly higher levels of discrimination and social exclusion.
The EU is a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which recognises that the full enjoyment of human rights by persons with disabilities and their full participation will result in significant advances in the development of societies and the eradication of poverty.
EU institutions and Member States share the commitment 'to take into account the specific needs of persons with disabilities in their development cooperation. In line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, they will vigorously promote the rights of persons with disabilities and take stronger measures to ensure their full inclusion in society and their equal participation in the labour market' (European Consensus on Development, 2017).
Globally, the number of persons with disabilities is growing as a result of conflict, poor health, malnutrition, preventable diseases, accidents, natural disasters and an increasingly aging population.
A disability raises the chances of a person falling into poverty, due to reduced access to education and employment and having to cope with extra expenses. At the same time, poverty can increase the risk of disability and prevents rehabilitation, due to poor health, reduced access to social services or unsafe living and working conditions.
Following the rights-based approach, the EU's development cooperation promotes equal opportunities, non-discrimination, and the rights of women, men and children with disabilities, in order to:
- encourage their full inclusion in society and in decision-making processes
- support their access to social, health and education services
- stimulate their participation in the labour market
- ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities are mainstreamed across all development policies, and in particular social inclusion, social protection, education, health and justice
- support the ratification, implementation and monitoring of the UN CRPD and support the participation of the organisations of persons with disabilities in these processes
- promote commitment to disability inclusion and rights internationally.