Physical, Genetic, and Accidental Events Help Create Inequalities
For those affected, these circumstances make life and work more challenging. They can even reduce basic, daily functioning.
Genetic diseases can reduce quality of life and work ability. That can affect someone's mental and physical capacities. It can also put strain on their mental health.
Genetic disorders, for instance, can both reduce a person's quality of life and result in limited work opportunities. Disorders with a genetic component such as autism or ADHD can make it more difficult for employees to work with colleagues or focus on a task. Physical genetic disorders, such as muscular dystrophy, may result in reduced mobility which can affect both manual labor jobs and office jobs (someone with MD, for instance, might not be able to access a building that doesn't meet ADA standards). According to results from the Human Genome project—which sequenced the DNA of thousands of people—there are over 6,000 genetic diseases. Of those, 10 are the most common. Those include cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, fragile x syndrome, hemophilia, Huntington’s disease, Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy, sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, tay-sachs, and Angelman syndrome. Many of these disorders lead to physical and/or mental challenges. Those can in turn affect both someone’s ability to work and their quality of life.
Even ordinary accidents can have long-term effects on individual agency. Millions of daily injuries can determine people's future. Even mundane accidents can exert a lifetime of consequences.
Ordinary accidents—from falls to car accidents—can reduce a person's capabilities. Car accidents alone, for instance, are a significant factor. Each year in the U.S., there are about 6 million car accidents. Of those, 2 million drivers will experience permanent injuries as a result. Other types of injuries such as tripping, spraining an ankle, or being injured by a falling object are in fact very common. There are a slew of workplace injuries, from violence between employees to strained muscles that can reduce mobility over time. Depending on the circumstances from the injury, an employee may or may not be eligible for workers' compensation. Victims of accidents may see reduced mobility and a need for extra help for things they once did on their own. This in turn can ripple out, creating fewer opportunities professionally and socially.
Military injuries can put people at a disadvantage. Mental trauma and physical injuries are common. And pregnant women in the armed forces have limited opportunities for advancement.
Military injuries—including psychological trauma—are extremely prevalent among the armed forces. The Army describes the problem of military injuries as an "epidemic." According to a recent report, the rate of injury is 2,500 per every 1,000 soldiers. This means that the average American serving in the Army will endure at least two musculoskeletal injuries. This figure includes injuries sustained both on missions and from Army garrisons. As many as 20% of all veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Persistent flashbacks, moodiness, or anxiety caused by PTSD can prevent veterans from functioning or working normally. Specifically for women, military sexual trauma and other issues can cause permanent damage. Some 23% of female veterans report being sexually assaulted, and 55% report being sexually harassed, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs. Getting pregnant in the Army also means you can't be deployed and can be honorably discharged. When a woman becomes pregnant in the army she has two choices: either leave the military under an honorable discharge, or become non-deployable while she's pregnant. She is not allowed to handle chemicals or firearms, for instance. This renders female members of the military helpless to continue service similar to their male counterparts and sets them back in their military career. While some states like Washington are working to change their policies so pregnant members have more options, it's a pervasive problem that has yet to be addressed.