Thursday, December 5, 2013
Marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the United Nations is calling for global efforts to ensure that the more than one billion people worldwide who live with some form of disability can reap the benefits of development and fully participate in society. “We must remove all barriers that affect the inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in society, including through changing attitudes that fuel stigma and institutionalize discrimination,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day, observed annually on 3 December. “We need to work harder to ensure that infrastructure and services support inclusive, equitable and sustainable development for all.”
About 15 per cent of the world’s population lives with some form of disability, and those persons face physical, social, economic and attitudinal barriers that prevent them from effectively participating in society. Persons with disabilities are also disproportionately represented among the world’s poorest, and lack equal access to basic resources such as education, employment, healthcare and legal support systems.
At the first High-level Meeting on Disability and Development, held in September, countries adopted a landmark outcome document seeking to promote development initiatives that take into account the needs of persons with disabilities.
The theme for this year’s Day – ‘Break Barriers, Open Doors: for an inclusive society and development for all’ – seeks to build on that commitment, and is particularly important as countries prepare to shape the next development agenda that will follow the Millennium Development Goals after their 2015 target date.
“We must take aim at breaking down barriers and creating opportunities so that all human beings can live their lives to the fullest,” John Ashe, the President of the General Assembly, said in his message for the Day. Hailing the commitments made at the High-level Meeting, Mr. Ashe said what the world needs now are tools for action and change to realize an inclusive society where everyone’s rights are protected and equal opportunities are supported.
(adapted from a UN press release)