International Day of People with Disabilities (IDWPD)

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.

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 mobilize 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 organizations and the private sector are welcome to organize their own events to celebrate the International Day to raise awareness and promote the rights and perspectives of persons with disabilities around the world.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol (A/RES/61/106) was adopted on 13 December 2006 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, and was opened for signature on 30 March 2007. There were 82 signatories to the Convention, 44 signatories to the Optional Protocol, and 1 ratification of the Convention. This is the highest number of signatories in history to a UN Convention on its opening day. It is the first comprehensive human rights treaty of the 21st century and is the first human rights convention to be open for signature by regional integration organizations. The Convention entered into force on 3 May 2008.

The Convention follows decades of work by the United Nations to change attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities. It takes to a new height the movement from viewing persons with disabilities as “objects”  of charity, medical treatment and social protection towards viewing persons with disabilities as “subjects” with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and making decisions for their lives based on their free and informed consent as well as being active members of society.

The Convention is intended as a human rights instrument with an explicit, social development dimension. It adopts a broad categorization of persons with disabilities and reaffirms that all persons with all types of disabilities must enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms. It clarifies and qualifies how all categories of rights apply to persons with disabilities and identifies areas where adaptations have to be made for persons with disabilities to effectively exercise their rights and areas where their rights have been violated, and where protection of rights must be reinforced.

The Convention was negotiated during eight sessions of an Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly from 2002 to 2006, making it  the fastest negotiated human rights treaty.

2020 IDPWD THEME:”NOT ALL DISABILITIES ARE VISIBLE”

On December 3 this year, during the annual celebration of people with disabilities, the 2020 theme ‘Not all Disabilities are Visible’ also focuses on spreading awareness and understanding of disabilities that are not immediately apparent, such as #mentalillness, #chronicpain or #fatigue, sight or hearing impairments, diabetes, brain injuries, neurological disorders, learning differences and cognitive dysfunctions, among others.

According to the WHO World Report on #Disability, 15 per cent of the world’s population, or more than 1 billion people, are living with disability. Of this number, it’s estimated 450 million are living with a mental or neurological condition— and two-thirds of these people will not seek professional medical help, largely due to stigma, discrimination and neglect.

Another 69 million individuals are estimated to sustain Traumatic #Brain Injuries each year worldwide, while one in 160 children are identified as on the #autism spectrum.

These are just some examples of the millions of people currently living with a disability that is not immediately apparent, and a reminder of the importance of removing barriers for all people living with disability, both visible and invisible.

During the #COVID19 #pandemic, isolation, disconnect, disrupted routines and diminished services have greatly impacted the lives and mental well-being of people with disabilities right around the world. Spreading awareness of invisible disabilities, as well as these potentially detrimental— and not always immediately apparent— impacts to #mentalhealth, is crucial as the world continues to fight against the #virus.

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