Every year since 1992, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) has been annually observed around the world on December 3. The theme for 2019’s IDPD is ‘Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda’.
2019’s theme focuses on the empowerment of PwDs for inclusive, equitable and sustainable development as envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which pledges to ‘leave no one behind’ and recognises disability as a cross-cutting issue as part of the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Today, the world population is over seven billion people and more than one billion or approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population live with some form of disability; 80 per cent live in developing countries. According to the Census of India 2011, there are 26.8 million people with disabilities (PwDs) in India who constitute 2.21 per cent of the total population.
As a UN recognised day, World Disability Day aims at increasing public awareness, understanding and accepting people with disability and celebrating their achievements and contributions.
Commenting on the same, disability activist Dr Malvika Iyer, a bilateral amputee, mentioned on a Twitter thread, “The most critical barrier PwDs face is the invisible barrier of attitudes. Attitudes are so significant that they represent more of a barrier to PwDs than any functional limitation caused by the disability.”
I was labeled the disabled girl with no future. The naive 13 year old mind inside me was ready to believe their verdict on my life and had it not been for the unconditional support of my family and friends, I’d have given up.
— Dr. Malvika Iyer (@MalvikaIyer) December 3, 2019
Disability is referenced in various parts of the SDGs and specifically in parts related to education, growth and employment, inequality, accessibility of human settlements, as well as data collection and monitoring of the SDGs.
History of World Disability Day
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 equalisation of opportunities, rehabilitation and prevention of disabilities.
The theme was ‘full participation and equality’, defined as the right of PwDs to take part fully in the life and development of their societies, enjoy living conditions equal to those of other citizens, and have an equal share in improved conditions resulting from socio-economic development.
Building on many decades of UN’s work in the field of disability, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), adopted in 2006, has further advanced the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other international development frameworks, such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action, the New Urban Agenda, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development.
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”.
The United Nation’s Secretary General António Guterres said in his message, “On this International Day, I reaffirm the commitment of the United Nations to work with people with disabilities to build a sustainable, inclusive and transformative future in which everyone, including women, men, girls and boys with disabilities, can realise their potential.”