People with disabilities face barriers in Iran when they go outside alone

Negar M. has been using a wheelchair for years; however, she cannot go out alone because the cities in Iran are not designed to meet the needs of people with physical disabilities.


Iran-A physical disability may be present from birth, or even as the result of the birthing process. It may result from an illness or an injury later in life. A physical disability may result from wars and occupations, accidents, migration, poverty, health policies, wrong vaccination, patriarchal culture, child marriage, domestic violence and many more.

December 3 is annually observed as International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development. The theme of the IDPD 2023 is “United in action to rescue and achieve the SDGs for, with and by persons with disabilities”. 1.3 billion people experience significant disability and this represents 16% of the world’s population, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). However, neither societies nor states make sufficient efforts to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities, except for observing IDPD.

One of the barriers faced by persons with disabilities is discrimination. Women with disabilities are subjected to double discrimination: sexism as well as disability bias. Girls and young women with disabilities face up to 10 times more gender-based violence than those without disabilities, according to a study of UNFPA. Girls and women with disabilities face significant barriers in accessing equal education, athletics, housing, and employment. Women with disabilities often encounter barriers to accessing reproductive health services.

The cities and public spaces are not planned and designed to meet the needs of persons with disabilities. Physical inaccessibility of public spaces is another barrier faced by persons with disabilities.

‘I cannot go out alone’

Negar M. is a 33-year-old woman with physical disability in Tehran, Iran. She has been using a wheelchair for several years. In an interview with NuJINHA, she complained about the physical inaccessibility of public spaces in Tehran. Speaking about the barriers faced by her when she visits a shopping center alone.

“Shopping centers generally have several floors and they are not designed to meet the needs of persons with disabilities. I cannot go to shopping centers. I have to buy what I need online or ask my family to buy them. Even parking spaces are not accessible to people with disabilities. I cannot go out alone. Someone should come with me when I go out. Going out alone is a dream for me.”