3.12. International Day of Persons with Disabilities

This blog post is part of the series, where the board members of UN Youth of Helsinki write about the themes of United Nations International Days. This blog post is written by Maria Autio, who is a student of development studies and UN Youth of Helsinki’s international project attendant.


Over 1 billion people in the world are living with some form of a disability. In many parts of the world disabled people are still today facing many barriers for their human rights, as they face a lot of stigma and discrimination from the societies they live in. They are often excluded from their communities, healthcare, education, employment and transportation systems. People are having dangerous misconceptions about how disabilities form especially in the areas where technology and science are not available, which is causing even stronger oppression towards disabled people and their human rights. Because of all the stigma and misconceptions, persons with disabilities are sometimes even hidden by their own families in many parts of the world.

Especially women with disabilities are experiencing multiple discriminations resulting from both their disability and gender. They are facing a heightened risk of physical and sexual violence, for instance their isolation, communication barriers and limitations in their physical mobility contributing to these risks. Also a high number of disabled people still continue to be denied their reproductive and sexual rights through the practice of forced sterilization.

Poverty and disability often walk hand in hand, forming a cycle really difficult to escape. Disabled people are more likely to stay trapped in poverty because of the multiple barriers they are facing in their day-to-day lives, such as access to secure livelihood possibilities and full participation in their societies. Due to the lack of awareness and education of their special needs, disabled people have often been the last to benefit from the global poverty reduction programmes.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities aims to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of social, political, economic and cultural life and to promote their human rights and wellbeing. The theme of the year 2018 is empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality as the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 pledges to leave no one behind. To achieve this goal, persons with disabilities should be taken more comprehensively into account in development co-operation and urban planning in order to create more enabling environments and to ensure their full and equal participation in all spheres of society. There needs to be an increased attention on the needs of the persons with disabilities by the poverty reduction programmes, so that leaving no one behind would truly become a reality.



ADD International:
https://www.add.org.uk/why-disability Retrieved 2.12.2018

Human Rights Watch: One Billion Forgotten – Protecting the Human Rights of Persons with Disabilities: https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/related_material/2014%20disabilities_program_low.pdf Retrieved 2.12.2018

United Nations, Disability:
https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/international-day-of-persons-with-disabilities-3-december/idpd18.html Retrieved 2.12.2018

United Nations, International Day of Persons with Disabilities 3 December:
http://www.un.org/en/events/disabilitiesday/ Retrieved 2.12.2018

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