Rights not charity, disability measures after the 30th of June revolution

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Egypt has sanctioned many UN Human Rights Conventions signing international commitments to hold to the standards stated in universal human rights documents, yet little was adopted on legal and practical applications to offer these rights to people with disability until 2013 that is.

In 2013 after the people’s revolution overthrowing the brotherhood, representatives with disabilities participated in the 50 committee who drafted the new constitution creating new amendments giving emphasised rights to citizens with disability. Article (81) of the new constitution reads: The State shall guarantee the health, economic, social, cultural, entertainment, sporting and educational rights of persons with disabilities and dwarves, strive to provide them with job opportunities, allocate a percentage of job opportunities to them, and adapt public facilities and their surrounding environment to their special needs.

The State shall also ensure their exercise of all political rights and integration with other citizens in compliance with the principles of equality, justice and equal opportunities.

Not only that but also the parliament election law in 2015 designated a minimum quota of parliament candidates with disability to ensure fair representation in the parliament. This resulted in passing the first Egyptian disability rights law in December 2017 and its approval by President El-Sisi in February 2018.

The new approved Egyptian disability rights law grants each person with a disability a special id card accompanied by a medical file to cover his or her medical expenses even if not originally covered by medical insurance.

The law also commits the government educational regulatory body to take necessary measures to ensure educational integration of students with disability in regular private and government schools if their skills allow it, if their skills didn’t allow them to perform in regular schools, the law obliges the regulatory body to allocate specially designed facilities for their education and requires the government institutions to erase illiteracy for those who are above educational age.

On the other hand, for higher education the law dictates that at least 10% of government university housing should be allocated to students with disability.  Furthermore, the government will be committed according to the new law to support the disabled for employment, and all private and government companies with more than 20 employees will be compelled to hire at least 5% of their total employees from the disabled pool.

The law also gives tax incentives for hiring over quota.  According to the new law workers with disability or those who sponsor family members with disability will enjoy 50% tax cuts, one paid hour reduced from their daily workload, and there will be social protection benefits according to the social insurance law.

In addition, 5% of all government social housing will be devoted to people with disability, and all new Egyptian buildings will be subjected to disability easy access code.

Moreover, all motor vehicles designed for disabled people will be customs and VAT tax exempted, and in the event of an arrest of a disabled person the national council for disability affairs must be notified to provide legal and medical assistance.

The government is not the only party that is taking measures to support the disabled in Egypt, in November, 2017 the Helm Foundation, in association with Drosos and Bassita, started a campaign aimed to raise awareness about the needs of the disabled.

The campaign featured a video starring famed Egyptian actors Menna Shalaby and Ahmed Malek where the daily struggles of persons with disabilities in Egypt are portrayed, Egyptian Streets reported.  According to Helm (a non-profit organisation that aims to promote the full inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in all aspects of life in Egypt), at least 14 million Egyptians suffer from at least one form of disability.

In Rio 2016 Games Aya Ayman was Egypt’s first and youngest female Paralympic swimmer to have ever competed in the Paralympics. In this tournament, Egypt won 12 medals.

Egypt is in 31st place worldwide on the Summer Games’ all-time medal table for Paralympic.

Mervat El Samman, an Egyptian parliament member, a representative of citizens with disabilities said that a number of ministers already started executive decisions to apply the new disability rights law, reported el Youm7.

El Samman demanded re-equipping Cairo metro stations to be disabled friendly.

The Egyptian government has long been criticised for the discrepancy between laws and application. Regarding disability rights the 30th of June government in many ways has proven the existence of a political will to grant the disabled their rights and the coming days will either prove or deny their commitment.

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