More than one billion people in the world today live with some form of disability; that’s one in seven of all of us. Disability includes blindness, low vision, leprosy-cured, hearing impairment, loco motor disability, mental retardation and mental illness. Nearly everyone faces hardships and difficulties at one time or another. But for people with disabilities, barriers can be more frequent and have greater impact. In our supposedly advanced society, people with disabilities are subject to economic and social inequalities, violations of dignity and in some cases denied their very autonomy. In many low-income and middle-income countries, only 5-15 per cent of disabled people who require assistive devices and technology have access to them. Whilst the levels of such basic rights violations may vary from place-to-place, the truth is that they occur everywhere from the richest countries in the world (where buildings and transport systems may not be designed with the disabled in mind) to the poorest (where people may be subject to violence, prejudice or imprisonment). According to a recent study, disabled are still being discriminated via various aspects at the workplace. A physical environment that is not accessible, lack of relevant assistive technology, negative attitudes of people towards disabilities is the few challenges which identified in this research.
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
The estimated one billion people living with disabilities worldwide face many barriers to inclusion in many key aspects of society. As a result, people with disabilities do not enjoy access to society on an equal basis with others, which includes areas of transportation, employment, and education as well as social and political participation. The right to participate in public life is essential to create stable democracies, active citizenship and reduce inequalities in society. Persons with disabilities must be able to fulfill their role in society and participate on an equal basis with others. It is important to focus on the ability and not on the disability of an individual. Keeping that in mind International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPWD) is celebrated every year on 3rd December. IDPWD is a United Nations sanctioned day that aims to promote:
*an understanding of disability issues
*the rights of persons with disabilities
* creating real opportunities for people with disabilities.
IDPWD stands by its conviction that a person is not inherently ‘disabled’...disability is NOT a feature of a person. We say that people have health impairments: some of us need wheelchairs to mobilise; some of us need seeing-eye dogs; some of us need assistive technology - just like some of us need glasses to read; or medication to manage pain; or an inhaler to manage asthma.
All people have different health impairments at some time in their lives. The difference is that most of the time your health impairment doesn’t stop you from functioning, being included or participating in your community.
In 1976, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 1981 as the International Year of Disabled Persons. It called for a plan of action at the National, regional and International levels, with an emphasis on equalization of opportunities, rehabilitation and prevention of disabilities.
To provide a time frame during which governments and organizations could implement the activities recommended in the World Programme of Action, the General Assembly proclaimed 1983-1992 the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons.
Since 1992, International Day of Persons with Disabilities has been annually observed on 3 December around the world in order to improve the understandings of the people worldwide towards the people with disability issues as well as get together to support them to improve their self-esteem, well-being and rights in the society.
This year’s theme
While disability correlates with disadvantage, not all people with disability are equally disadvantaged. Much depends on the context in which they live, and whether or not they have equal access to health, education and employment, among others.
The theme for International Day of People with Disability for 2019 is - ‘Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda’. According to the United Nations, 2019’s theme focuses on the empowerment of persons with disabilities for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which pledges to ‘leave no one behind’ and recognizes disability as a cross-cutting issues, to be considered in the implementation of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
This 2019 observance of the IDPD at the UN Headquarters will consist of an official opening, a panel discussion on new initiatives for disability inclusion, and a spotlight event on the theme of ‘Sport for all for peace and development’, which will be the opportunity to discuss sport as a powerful enabler of peace and sustainable development through the empowerment of persons with disabilities.
“More must be done to break the barriers which segregate people with disability, in many cases forcing them to the margins of society,” notes Dr Etienne Krug, Director of the WHO Department for the Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention. “People with disability are often unable to access either mainstream services or the specialized programmes they need. Unless progress is made on this front, we will fail to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and their ambitious vision to leave no one behind,” stresses Krug.