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SHF, DPI submit written statement to Committee on Rights of Persons with Disabilities on right to work

Photo: Mr. Homdeo Dhongade, who works as a laundryman with support from ALERT India.

In collaboration with Disabled Peoples’ International (DPI), Sasakawa Health Foundation submitted a General Comment on behalf of persons affected by leprosy and their families to the 24th session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was held virtually from March 8 to 26, 2021.

The joint written statement was for a General Discussion on March 22 and 24 on the right of persons with disabilities to work and employment (Article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, or CRPD).

The submission, illustrated with case studies from India, showed where persons affected by leprosy and their families, who are not fully recognized as persons with disabilities and consequently likely to be excluded from some welfare schemes, stand in terms of work and employment and emphasized the disproportionate socio-economic impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on marginalized communities such as this one.

The General Comment pointed out various structural issues, such as limited access to education and vocational training, discriminatory laws and institutions, and definitions of disability that hinder access to benefits.

It also put forward several proposals, among them calling on the committee to urge States Parties to the CRPD to design special programs and initiatives to ensure equal participation of women in livelihood opportunities, to ensure legal empowerment of persons affected by leprosy and to scale up social protection measures.

A recording of the two-day General Discussion on the right to work and employment, including an oral statement by Alice Cruz, the U.N. special rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members, can be viewed on UN web TV.