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BRIEFDecember 18, 2023

Disability Inclusive Social Protection in Romania

Employees at a bakery in Romania that employs persons with disabilities

Employees at a bakery in Romania that employs persons with disabilities

Jutta Bezenberg/ World Bank

Approximately 1 out of every 20 people in Romania holds a disability certificate as of June 2023—totaling nearly 900,000 individuals, of which roughly 77,000 are children. Persons with disabilities in Romania are more likely to be women and to have lower levels of education. While a little over 16,000 adults with disabilities still live in social care residential centers under the social protection system, there is an unknown number of people admitted to other facilities like psychiatry wards and hospitals for extended periods of time.

The fundamental right to social and economic inclusion of persons with disabilities is yet to be fully realized in Romania. Romanians with disabilities are often socially ostracized and less materially well-off, encounter barriers in accessing their physical environment, and face exclusion from employment opportunities and the health system.

Romania is slowly making efforts to improve disability inclusion, with progress visible already in some areas as part of the country’s efforts targeted at implementing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) that was ratified in 2010.

Since 2019, the World Bank has been actively supporting Romania on strengthening its social protection system to better assist and include persons with disabilities. Under several engagements with the Government of Romania, the World Bank has contributed to the development of overarching strategic frameworks to support the implementation and monitoring of the CRPD, and provided technical assistance to support reforms enabling the modernization of the process under which disabilities are assessed, as well as facilitating deinstitutionalization and independent living.  

National Strategic Framework 

Although Romania ratified the CRPD in 2010, advancements to enable persons with disabilities to enjoy their rights have been slow. This is largely on account of limited national coordination, unclearly defined responsibilities, and limited resources specifically allocated to this aim.

In 2019, the Government of Romania requested technical support from the World Bank to develop a robust national strategy for the implementation and monitoring of the CRPD. A national strategy did exist at the time of the new strategic planning, but it did not systematically cover all measures needed for aligning national policy to CRPD requirements, and it did not have clear indicators or a monitoring system.

Approved in late 2022, Romania’s new National Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities covers the period 2022-2027. This strategy is built on a wealth of data and took shape through a participatory process with all relevant stakeholders, especially persons with disabilities and their representative organizations. In doing so, this represents Romania’s first strategy on the topic of disability inclusion that reflects the lived experiences of persons with disabilities.  

The World Bank has also contributed to the development of a mechanism designed to monitor the progress of over 30 types of actors engaged in the implementation of the strategy. The National Authority for the Protection of Rights of Persons with Disabilities is responsible for overseeing the implementation and monitoring of the National Strategy.