International Day of Persons with Disabilities - 3 December

Disabled Youth Participate in International Day of Peace Activities (Liberia)

UN Photo / C. Herwig

Under the 2013 theme, “Break barriers, open doors: for an inclusive society for all”, the commemoration of this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities provides an opportunity to further raise awareness of disability and accessibility as a cross cutting development issue and further the global efforts to promote accessibility, remove all types of barriers, and to realize the equal participation of persons with disabilities in society and shape the future of development for all!

Over one billion people, or approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability! Around the world, women and men with disabilities face physical, social, economic and attitudinal barriers that exclude them from participating fully and effectively as equal members of society. They are disproportionately represented among the world’s poorest, and lack equal access to basic resources, such as education, employment, healthcare and social and legal support systems, as well as have a higher rate of mortality. In spite of this situation, disability has remained largely invisible in the mainstream development agenda and its processes.

UNESCO/Petterik Wiggers
The Menelik school, as many schools in Ethiopia have disabled students in normal classrooms.

The international disability movement achieved an extraordinary advance in 2006, with the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention follows decades of work by the United Nations to change attitudes and approaches to disability that would ensure the full equality and participation of persons with disabilities in society. The Convention is intended as a human rights instrument with an explicit, development dimension. However, to realize equality and participation for persons with disabilities, they must be included in all development processes and, now more importantly, in the new emerging post-2015 development framework.

The UN General Assembly has repeatedly emphasized that the genuine achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other internationally agreed development goals, requires the inclusion and integration of the rights, and well-being, as well as the perspective of persons with disabilities in development efforts at national, regional and international levels.

In 2011, the General Assembly convened the High Level Meeting on development and disability (HLMDD) at the level of Heads of State and Government, on 23 September 2013, under the theme: “The way forward: a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond”. The HLMDD Outcome that was adopted is an action-oriented document  that provides policy guidance that helps to  translate the international commitment for a disability-inclusive society into concrete actions and to strengthen global efforts to ensure accessibility for and inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society and  development.

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