Shocking Revelation: Disability Rights Under Threat Due to Shocking Caregiver Conditions

Gerard Quinn, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of individuals with disabilities, has expressed concerns about the negative impact of subpar working conditions within the caregiving sector. Quinn highlighted that jobs with limited growth potential, low wages, and inadequate conditions are not conducive to building resilient systems, as underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Disadvantages Faced by Female Caregivers

Speaking at the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) session in Geneva, Quinn drew attention to the challenging situation of women working in caregiving roles. He pointed out the phenomenon known as the “feminization of poverty,” where women in caregiving positions face significant disadvantages. Quinn stressed the importance of addressing this issue, asserting that genuine rights involve addressing the broader context that either supports or weakens these rights.

Incorporating Women’s Rights and Care Providers

Quinn emphasized that discussions concerning disability rights cannot occur in isolation and must encompass women’s rights as well. He highlighted the responsibility of service providers in the caregiving sector, which he described as a “multi-billion-dollar industry.” These providers must recognize their role in upholding human rights.

Disability in Conflict Situations

Quinn emphasized that the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has broader implications beyond disability rights, affecting areas such as climate, conflict, development, and democratization. He provided a glimpse of his upcoming report on conflict and disability, expressing astonishment that only six percent of peace treaties in the last three decades mention disability. Quinn urged a shift in this trend, asserting that the exclusion of persons with disabilities from matters of accountability, reparations, and remembrance needs rectification.

UN-Wide Policy Guidance on Care Initiatives

Representing UN Human Rights (OHCHR) during the CRPD session, Asako Hattori indicated that the office continues to focus on inclusive care and support systems. They are currently preparing a report on best practices for the community inclusion of persons with disabilities, set to be presented to the Human Rights Council next year. OHCHR is also developing a UN system-wide policy guidance on the topic of “care.”

Globally, there are approximately one billion people with disabilities, comprising about 15 percent of the world’s population. To advocate for their rights, the CRPD, composed of 18 independent experts, monitors countries’ implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and offers recommendations. Currently, 187 States have ratified the Convention since its establishment in 2008. The ongoing session of the Committee will review reports from Andorra, Austria, Germany, Israel, Malawi, Mauritania, Mongolia, and Paraguay, which will continue until early September.

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