Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Poor working conditions for carers puts rights of disabled people at risk, says UN expert

Gerard Quinn, a UN-appointed independent rights expert, has warned that the rights of disabled people will soon be in jeopardy unless working conditions for carers are improved.

Speaking at UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in Geneva, Quinn said that bad working conditions for carers is having a negative impact on not only carers themselves, but also the people they care for, many of whom are disabled.

Quinn says that too often, caring roles offer low wages, poor working conditions and little room for social mobility and job progression.

Disability rights ‘do not exist in a vacuum’

He warns that since women make up the majority of carers, they are disproportionately affected and at greater risk of poverty.

“The ‘feminisation of poverty’ – whereby women carers are almost always severely disadvantaged – cannot continue,” he said, adding that being “serious” about rights meant that “we have to be serious about the ecosystem that gives them reality or that undermines them.”

Mr Quinn emphasised that service providers should be made aware that they too have a role to play in fulfilling human rights.

He also stressed that discussions surrounding disability rights do not exist in a vacuum and have to include a focus on women’s rights.

One in seven have a disability

In October, Gerard Quinn’s report on conflict and disability will be published.

According to OHCHR, 15% of the world (one billion people) have a disability. However, while researching for this report, Quinn found out that only 6% of peace treaties made in the last 30 years mention disability.

Mr Quinn says this is a “wasted opportunity” and is calling for changes to be made so that we can build a more inclusive society where disabled people are not excluded.

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