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The International Day of Persons with Disabilities was observed globally on December 3, 2018 with the theme “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”.

The international day aims to promote the rights of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development. It also aims to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of life, be it political, social, economic or cultural.

2018 Theme

This year’s theme focuses on empowering persons with disabilities for an inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 2030 Agenda pledges to “leave no one behind”.

Persons with disabilities, as both beneficiaries and agents of change, can fast-track the process towards inclusive and sustainable development and promote resilient society for all, including in the context of disaster risk reduction and humanitarian action, and urban development.

On the occasion, the UN Secretary-General will launch a flagship report titled “UN Flagship Report on Disability and Development | 2018 – Realizing the SDGs by, for and with persons with disabilities”.

About the Day

  • The International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is held on December 3 every year.
  • The annual observance of the day was proclaimed in 1992, by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly.
  • The day aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability and celebrate their achievements and contributions.
  • Each year the United Nations announces a theme to observe for International Day of People with Disability.
  • The annual theme provides an overarching focus on how society can strive for inclusivity through the removal of physical, technological and attitudinal barriers for people with disability.
  • The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted in 2006, has further advanced the rights of persons with disabilities in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other international development frameworks such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action.

Background

Currently, the world’s population stands at over 7 billion people and more than one billion people among them, or approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability. Almost 80 per cent of the disabled people have been found to be living in developing countries.

What does disability mean?

  • A disability is a condition or function judged to be significantly impaired relative to the usual standard of an individual of their group.
  • The term is often used to refer to individual functioning, including physical impairment, sensory impairment, cognitive impairment, intellectual impairment, mental illness and various types of chronic disease.
  • Persons with disabilities have generally poorer health, lower education achievements, fewer economic opportunities and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities.

Why?

The key reason for this is the lack of services available to them such as information and communications technology (ICT), justice or transportation and the many obstacles they face in their everyday lives.

These obstacles can take a variety of forms, including those relating to the physical environment, or those resulting from legislation or policy, or from societal attitudes or discrimination.

People with disabilities are at much higher risk of violence:

  • Children with disabilities are almost four times more likely to experience violence than non-disabled children.
  • Adults with some form or disability are 5 times more likely to be a victim of violence than those without a disability.
  • Adults with mental health conditions are at nearly four times the risk of experiencing violence.

The factors that place people with disabilities at higher risk of violence include stigma, discrimination, and ignorance about disability, as well as a lack of social support for those who care for them.

How to change the situation?

  • Evidence and experience show that when barriers to their inclusion are removed and persons with disabilities are empowered to participate fully in societal life, their entire community benefits.
  • The barriers faced by persons with disabilities are, therefore, a detriment to the society as a whole, and accessibility is necessary to achieve progress and development for all.
  • The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) recognises that the existence of barriers constitutes a central component of disability.
  • The Convention seeks to enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life and development.
  • It calls upon state parties to take appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have access to all aspects of society, on an equal basis with others, as well as to identify and eliminate obstacles and barriers to accessibility.
  • Under the Convention, disability is an evolving concept that “results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”
  • Accessibility and inclusion of persons with disabilities are fundamental rights recognised by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and are not only objectives but also pre-requisites for the enjoyment of other rights.

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