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.
International Day of Persons with Disabilities falls on the 3rd of December each year, with the aim of promoting empowerment and helping to create real opportunities for people with disabilities. This enhances their own capacities and supports them in setting their own priorities. Empowerment involves investing in people – in jobs, health, nutrition, education, and social protection. When people are empowered they are better prepared to take advantage of opportunities, they become agents of change and can more readily embrace their civic responsibilities.
What Disability Means
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. This usage has been described by some disabled people as being associated with a medical model of disability.
Persons with disabilities, “the world’s largest minority”, have generally poorer health, lower education achievements, fewer economic opportunities and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities. This is largely due to the lack of services available to them (like 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, legislation and 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 1.5 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.
Factors which place people with disabilities at higher risk of violence include stigma, discrimination, ignorance about disability, along with a lack of social support for those who care for them.
Inclusive Society and Development
Evidence and experience shows that when barriers to their inclusion are removed and persons with disabilities are empowered to participate fully in societal life, their entire community benefits. Barriers faced by persons with disabilities are, therefore, a detriment to 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. 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. The Convention seeks to enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life and development. It calls upon States 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.
Theme for IDPD 2017: Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all
The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed in 1992, by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. The observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
The main programme of the observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities at the UN Headquarters in New York will include the Opening, panel discussions and cultural events. Member States, civil society organisations and the private sector are welcome to organise their own events to celebrate the International Day to raise awareness and promote the rights and perspectives of persons with disabilities.
If you have a disability or are caring with someone who has a disability and feel it is affecting your mental health, Health Assured are here to help. You can get in touch through our helpline, or you can also visit the health and wellbeing portal for more information: