Statistics of disability


Currently around 10 percent of the total world's population, or rougthly 650 million people, live with a disability. In most of the countries, females have higher rates of disability than males.

Eighty percent of persons with disabilities live in developing countries, according to the UN Development Programme (UNDP). The World Bank estimates that 20 percent of the world's poorest people have some kind of disability, and tend to be regarded in their own communities as the most disadvantaged. Statistics show a steady increase in these numbers. The reasons include:

  1. Emergence of new diseases and other causes of impairment, such as HIV/AIDS, stress and alcohol and drug abuse.
  2. Increasing life span and numbers of elderly persons, many of whom have impairments.
  3. Projected increases in the number of disabled children over the next 30 years, particularly in the developing countries, due to malnutrition, diseases, child labor and other causes.
  4. Armed conflict and violence. For every child killed in warfare, three are injured and acquire a permanent form of disability. In some countries, up to a quarter of disabilities result from injuries and violence, says WHO.

Disability rates in the population are higher among groups with lower educational level in the countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). On average, 19 per cent of less educated people have disabilities, compared to 11 per cent among the better educated. Ninety per cent of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend school, says UNESCO. In the OECD countries, students with disabilities in higher education remain under-represented, although their numbers are on the increase, says the OECD.

Claims for disability benefits are surging in industrialized countries - up to 600 percent in some nations - encouraging governments, private companies and unions to search for ways to get disabled people back to work, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Unions are becoming involved in the return to work through the direct provision of services, and through disability management programs in the workplace. The ILO study also finds that private insurance providers are introducing more flexible arrangements so that workers who become disabled and who attempt a gradual transition to work do not lose their benefits. Companies are looking for ways to reduce costs by introducing disability management programs in the workplace. Thousands of persons with disabilities have been successful as small business owners, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.


Persons with disabilities are mostly unseen, unheard and uncounted persons in Pakistan. They are the most marginalized group. Persons with Disabilities face overwhelming barriers in education, skills development and daily life. Most currently offered services focus on children, with little availability for adult Persons with Disabilities.

Persons with disabilities also face multiple social, economic, physical and political handicaps, hampering their freedom of movement in society. These barriers include stigmatization and a misunderstanding of the abilities and aspirations of persons with disabilities. There is also a pronounced lack of informational data, rules and regulations, rehabilitation centers, and mainstreaming and specialized services for persons with disabilities.

In Pakistan, no single ministry or federal department deals with, issues related to disability. There is only the ministry, responsible for social welfare, women's development and special education, which touch upon person with disabilities issues. However, at the local level, there are no specific sections or departments responsible for person with disabilities programs at the local level.

Moreover, Pakistanis believe that persons with disabilities are a social burden and a curse on the family. These beliefs lead to the misunderstanding of disability. They prevent people from obtaining appropriate information and being educated. Employment opportunities for persons with disabilities are very limited and so they are a financial burden for their families.

Law and Legislation:

The Disabled Persons Employment and Rehabilitation Ordinance of 1981 was based on seminars and conferences held in connection with the observance of the International Year of the Disabled Persons in 1981.The main features of the legislation include a reservation of 1% quota of employment for persons with disabilities in all public and private sector establishments employing more than 100 persons. In cases where establishments do not employ persons with disabilities they are required to make remittances of Rs2,000 per month to the Disabled Persons Rehabilitation Fund established under Section 17 of the Ordinance.

Social Services:

There are no specific social service schemes for PWDs apart from those established as part of the Social Security System outlined in Section 1.5-National Social Welfare of this report. However, the Pakistan Bait ul Mal (PBM) was established in 1992 to provide necessities of life such as food stamps, clothing, education, financial aid, while establishing vocational training centers, Qarz-e-Hasna to establish businesses and medical relief for the poor, orphans, widows, disabled and the destitute. The PBM proposes to continue its activities as follows:

  • Food Support Program
  • Child Labour Centers
  • Skill Development for Child Workers and Women
  • Micro Credit Scheme
  • Medical Cover
  • Establishment of Welfare Homes

Additionally, Zakat is one of the five basic pillars of Islamic faith. In 1980 the Zakat and Ushr Ordinance was promulgated and enforced in order for the establishment of an Islamic Welfare state. The Zakat Ordiance mandates that 2.5% of the value of all declared, fixed financial assets (i.e. savings accounts/certificates and financial assets for fixed terms) for those possessing nisaab are to be automatically extracted at source by the state at the beginning of the month of Ramadan. The recipients of Zakat include both organizations and individuals, with 50% divided between a number of eligible social, health, education and religious institutions and the remainder directed to "Mustahqeen", or the needy individuals, identified by the local Zakat committees.

Zakat funds are distributed among Mustehqeen through 39,817 local Zakat Committees established at the grass roots level. Since its inception, the Zakat funds have largely been utilized for subsistence or "Guzara" allowance. Approximately 40% of Zakat funds are diverted towards a rehabilitation oriented program which includes 18% on Qarz-e-Hasna for education, 6% for health care, 8% for Deeni Madaris and 8% for rehabilitation grants. Funds for rehabilitation purposes enable the disadvantaged and underprivileged sections of the society to become self-reliant and productive members of the society. Appropriate representation is given to women in the Zakat administration fom Central Zakat Council down to the local Zakat Committees to enable Mustehqeen women to have access to Zakat funds.

Medical Services, Rehabilitation, Assistive Devices:


A pilot project (the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment of Disabled People) was established in 1992 in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United National Development Program (UNDP) to develop a cost effective model for the rehabilitation and employment of persons with disabilities through the tapping of resources available within the community. The project has successfully demonstrated that a national program of rehabilitation of disabled persons can be launched through the mobilization of community resources.

According to the MWDSW, the project has assisted 618 PWDs to become at the "Income Generation Level". While an additional 962 people are placed on skill training activities. Currently there are three service centers established in Karachi, Gyjrat and Islamabad.

The project involved local communities through its participative approach. During the initial years of the project, 57 civil society organizations in Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Karachi and Gurjrat collaborated in the rehabilitation program. The project was able to rehabilitate persons with disabilities through training which has resulted in income generating activities to support themselves and their dependent family members. The project continues to provide vocational training, provision of artificial limbs, training of volunteers and dissemination of information.


Use of assistive devices imported into Pakistan as well as locally fabricated units are being encouraged in all special education institutions in both the private and public sectors. Wheelchairs, crutches, low vision aids and hearing aids are provided for facilitation of students with disabilities. In the private sector there are NGOs who produce assistive devices like wheelchairs, artificial limbs, hearing aids and low vision aids for local consumption. The National Council for Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons and the National Trust for the Disabled and other philanthropic organizations provide assistive devices for free or give PWDs financial assistance to procure devices from the local market.

Community Based Rehabilitation:

Portage Parent Program or as it is generally known as "Portage Guide to Early Education" is meant to reinforce and enhances the parenting skills and empowers the family members to make them able to take care of the special needs of children with developmental delays. The program was designed to utilize the Portage home based model to assist special need children in rural areas who are not attending special schools. Field workers travel out to rural communities and asses children along with the community teacher and parents in order to develop educational plans for children based on the Portage Home Based Program. Family involvement is a key to the success of the program.

Through a two year research project funded by UNICEF during 1991-92 developed the Pakistan model of the community based program, which has since been replicated in various cities throughout Pakistan through several training workshops of Program Managers.

Independent Living Movement:

A representative from the Milestone Society for the Special Persons organization attended the 3rd Duskin Leadership Training Program in Japan during the 2001-2002 year. The leadership training program provided training in independent living with the Mainstream Association of Japan.

As a result of the participation in the Duskin Leadership Training Program, Milestone has become the primary organization initiating the independent living movement in Pakistan. Through the coordination of various Japanese disability organizations, including the Independent Living Center Muchu in Japan, Milestone has been promoting the independent living movement through various seminars including the International Symposium on "Life for All" held in February 2003 as well as the 2nd International Seminar on "What Disability Is?" held in March 2004.

Public Awareness:

Public awareness campaigns are launched on special occasions such as the "Celebration of Disabled Day" and the "White Cane Safety Day". On such occasions conferences, seminars and meetings are held under the auspices of relevant Government organizations. Special events are also held to create awareness about the problems and needs of persons with disabilities. In these events the main focus has been to promote a broad range of positive images of people with disabilities participating in various aspects of everyday life.

The President of Pakistan and Governors of the Provinces meet special delegations of persons with disabilities on "International Day of Disabled Persons" and issue special messages to special supplements of various newspapers.

A special television program called "Light" provides interviews and panel discussion on various topics related to people with disabilities which is hosted by Dr. Khalid Jamil and airs once a week on PTV. Through the Department of Information, the Government sponsors this program. The program has been on the air for more than 8 years.

The National Library and Resource Center established under the auspices of the Directorate General of Special Education has made great efforts in creating and enhancing professional insight by establishing a special library which contains professional books, overseas journals, audio and video cassettes, content page services, journals, reports and bulletins.

A private circulated monthly magazine called the "Pakistan Special" is the largest and only representative magazine circulated for PWDs in Pakistan. It is the only representative magazine for PWDs in Pakistan. In 2001, the renowned nuclear scientist Dr. Abdul Quadeer Khan became the magazines Patron-in-Chief. During 2002, the magazine became the first on-line magazine for PWDs in Pakistan.

A directory of special education institutions and rehabilitation centers was prepared containing information on the services and number of beneficiaries from the 293 centers. According to the Ministry of Women's Development, Social Welfare and Special Education, this directory is currently being revised.


The Government ratified the ILO Convention 159 in 1994. The main thrust of the convention is to create an atmosphere aiming at equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities through the provision of services, which are more appropriate to their needs and not different from able-bodied persons.

In order to promote sports and athletic activities at the national level, the subject "Sports for the Disabled" was entrusted by the Directorate General of Special Education to the National Training Center for Disabled Persons in Islamabad in 1988.

The first main Special Olympics was held in Pakistan in 1989 and athletes from Pakistan have since attended the Special Olympics World Games in 1991, 1995 and 1999. A brief summary of participants is as follows:

  • 1991 Special Olympics World Summer Games, Minnesota, USA-16 medals, 16 Athletes
  • 1995 Special Olympics World Summer Games, Connecticut, USA-23 Medals, 28 Athletes
  • 1996 Special Olympics 1st Asia/Pacific Summer Games, China-32 Medals, 14 Athletes
  • 1999 Special Olympics World Summer Games, North Carolina, USA-63 Medals, 40 Athletes
  • 2002 FESPIC, North Korea

Additionally, the National Cricket Team of Visually Handicapped Persons participated in World Blind Cricket Tournament held in 1998 in South Africa and won 2nd position.


Only limited categories of disabilities (physical disabilities such as amputations, foot and leg deformities, visual and hearing impairments) have been surveyed nationwide and most of the data has not been categorized by gender. Therefore, quantitative, nationwide, disaggregated data, by gender and age, is required for comprehensive policymaking and an assessment of progress. Person with Disabilities-related items taken up by the National Census, specific theme and regional studies by regional governments, as well as governmental and international organizations should be collected, and missing information or items should be surveyed. At the same time, it is important to publish and disseminate the results of these surveys to persons with disabilities themselves, policy makers, project implementations and aid donors so that they can be utilized for policy making and international project planning.


DGSE is responsible for the formulation and implementation of a national policy and programs for assistive devices. Major future programs for assistive devices are as follows:

  1. Provision of low-vision aid.
  2. Establishment of special education centers at district headquarters
  3. Establishment of orthotic-prosthetic workshops.
  4. Assembly of hearing aids.
  5. Establishment of a regional institute of training and research on special education.

The Government does not impose duties or taxes on motorized wheelchairs and special vehicles. Pakistan produces all prosthetic and orthotic devices indigenously and is able to meet the "official" demand for these devices. However, many persons with disabilities, especially in rural areas, have not been identified and are unaccounted for in the "official" demand.

Students enrolled in the national or provincial special education centers are fitted with hearing aids, aids for visual correction, white canes, braces, corrective boots and crutches free-of-charge.


During the 1998 Census disability related questions appeared for the first time. It is anticipated that during the next census, scheduled for 2008, questions of disability will be included. No other Government surveys or studies have been conducted. According to the 1998 Census, it was estimated that a total 2.49% of the population had some form of disability. It is recognized by the Government that the prevalence rate is higher than indicated by the census.

List of NGOs, working for Education, Training and Rehabilitation of PWDs.

Organization Phone/Fax

  • Al-Shifa Trust Karachi Airport, Karachi Tel: 92-21-457-3237
  • Care for Special Persons Foundation, Islamabad
  • Centre for Speech and Hearing for Handicapped, St. 1, Sheikh Maltoon Town, Mardan. Tel: 92-93-168-012

Only 3 are shown list of all NGOS working for education, training and rehabilitation of PWDS are attached at the end of chapter.


The two-way link between poverty and disability creates a vicious circle. Poor people are more at risk of acquiring a disability because of lack of access to good nutrition, health care, sanitation, as well as safe living and working conditions. Once this occurs, people face barriers to the education, employment, and public services that can help them escape poverty.

Discriminatory practices continue to deny persons with disabilities, as well as workers who become disabled, access to work. Two-thirds of the unemployed respondents with disabilities said they would like to work but could not find jobs.

Dr. Amartya Sen pointed out in his keynote address at the World Banks conference on disability, the poverty line for disabled people should take into account the extra expenses they incur in exercising what purchasing power they do have. A study in the United Kingdom found that the poverty rate for disabled people was 23.1 percent compared to 17.9 percent for non-disabled people, but when extra expenses associated with being disabled were considered, the poverty rate for people with disabilities shot up to 47.4 percent.


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