Ecuador, one of the 17 mega-diverse countries, is a naturally beautiful country situated in the northwestern South America. It is a middle-income developing country with a high incidence of income inequality among its citizens. Let us assess the condition of people with disabilities residing in the Republic of Ecuador.
Definition of Disability in Ecuador
The definition of disability given in Ecuador is quite complex. The definition of persons with disability says that –
“Person with a disability who, as a result of one or more physical, mental, intellectual or sensory deficiencies, independently of the cause that caused it, is permanently restricted its biological, psychological and associative capacity to exercise one or more essential activities of daily life, in a proportion equivalent to thirty percent (30%) of disabilities.
A person with deficiency or disabling condition to one who presents a temporary decrease or suspension of any of their physical, sensory or intellectual capacities, in the terms established by the Law, and who, even when subjected to clinical or surgical treatments, its evolution and prognosis is predictably unfavorable in a period of one year of evolution, without it becoming permanent”.
In simple terms, a person can be considered disabled in Ecuador if –
- she has one or more physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory deficiencies
- that permanently limits the biological, psychological or associative capacity
- hindering activities of daily life
- in proportion more than or equal to 30% of the disability
Further, the definition states that those individuals too will be considered as persons with disabilities who –
- experience a temporary decrease or suspension in their physical, mental, intellectual or sensory capacities
- and the same cannot be favorably treated within a period of one year from the occurrence of such a situation
We can conclude that a benchmark of 30% is set in Ecuador for a person to be considered disabled. Further, temporary disability too is recognized by the laws of Ecuador if it is over the benchmark limit and if it requires more than a year for recovery.
Laws and Legislation Regarding Disability
Following laws deal with the rights of persons with disabilities in Ecuador:
1. Constitution of Ecuador 2008
The laws of Ecuador mandates the government to guarantee its citizen the rights enshrined in the national law as well as the international human rights treaties ratified by the state. It must be noted that Ecuador ratified the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the year 2008. Therefore, as per the law, all the rights mentioned in UNCRPD are to be guaranteed to persons with disabilities.
The Constitution of Ecuador mentions the principle of equality and non-discrimination and allows the government to take any affirmative action for those who otherwise face inequality. children, old people, girls and adolescents, pregnant women, persons with disabilities and those who suffer from catastrophic and high complexity diseases are categorized as ‘priority care groups’ and the state is mandated to provide priority and specialized care for those in the group.
Articles 47, 48 and 49 of the Constitution specifically recognize the rights of persons with disabilities. It is mentioned that individuals with disabilities have the right to equal treatment, equal opportunities and the right to social integration.
2. Organic Law of National Councils for Equality
The objective of the law is to establish an institutional and regulatory framework to regulate the National Council of Equality according to the principles set in the Constitution of Ecuador. The law ensures that the rights enshrined in the constitution and the international treaties on human rights are exercised by the citizens without any hindrance. This is the law that protects, promotes and guarantees all the laws related to equality and inclusion.
Employment-Related Laws of Ecuador
Ecuador is still in the phase of infancy when it comes to human rights for persons with disabilities. Hence, there aren’t many laws regulating employment conditions for persons with disabilities. Starting from 2010, companies having 25 or more employees are required to reserve a quota of 4% for persons with disabilities.
Social Status of Persons with Disabilities in Ecuador
Till 2007, people with disabilities lived a life of exclusion in Ecuador. They were considered unemployable and good-for-nothing. They had to live on the charity of family and friends (if there were any). It was in 2007 that Lenin Munro got elected as vice president of the country. He was the first wheelchair user to attain the position. Mr. Munro got paralyzed waist down after a gunshot in 1998. He advocated for the rights of persons with disabilities and started taking affirmative actions as the vice president of Ecuador. The life of people with disabilities in the country started changing for the better in 2007.
Still, there are many challenges for persons with disabilities including – poverty, social exclusion, infrastructural barriers, unemployment, lack of opportunities for proper education and training etc. It is estimated that only about 11.9% of persons with disabilities are able to attend high school as opposed to 24.2% for the non-disabled population.
The journey of Ecuador towards a just and inclusive society for persons with disabilities began just a decade back. It still needs to cover a very long distance before achieving its goal.
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"Disability in Ecuador: Definition, Laws, Employment and Social Status." Wecapable.com. Web. July 26, 2021. <https://wecapable.com/disability-in-ecuador-definition-laws-employment-social-status/>
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"Disability in Ecuador: Definition, Laws, Employment and Social Status." (n.d.). Wecapable.com. Retrieved July 26, 2021 from https://wecapable.com/disability-in-ecuador-definition-laws-employment-social-status/