International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2013

Today, 3 December 2013, is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, proclaimed by the United Nations.

The UN explains the background to this year's theme:

Over one billion people, or approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability.

Around the world, persons 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 having a higher rate of mortality. In spite of this situation, disability has remained largely invisible in the mainstream development agenda and its processes.

Earlier, 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 realise 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 emphasised in recent years 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.

Toward this end, 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 High Level Meeting was held at a strategic timing of the UN history. It took place five years after the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities entered into force, two years after release of the World Report on Disability and two years away from 2015 – the target date for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – and thereafter, the commencement of the post-2015 agenda and new development priorities.

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.

It’s It’s time to effectively implement the Outcome Document of the High Level Meeting and to break barriers and open doors: to realize an inclusive society and development 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, realise the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in society and shape the future of development for all.

* More information, action and events: http://www.un.org/disabilities/

* On this day, Ekklesia is continuing to back the 'war on welfare' petition for a cumulative assessment of the impact of welfare changes in the UK. We are particularly appealing to churches and church leaders to support the call for a parliamentary debate: http://wowpetition.com

* Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC): http://dpac.uk.net

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