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International Day Of Persons With Disabilities: Here’s What You Need To Know


The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed annually on 3 December. The goal of the UN day is to promote understanding of disability issues.

In addition, it also promotes the rights of persons with disabilities, as well as the gains to be derived from the integration of person with disestablishes “in every aspect of the political, social, economical and cultures life of their communities.”

“When we secure the rights of people with disabilities, we move closer to achieving the central promise of the 2030 Agenda – to leave no one behind.”

 António Guterres, UN Secretary-General

Earlier this year, UN Secretary-General launched the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy to provide a foundation for “sustainable and transformative progress on disability inclusion through all pillars of the work of the United Nations.”

Disability Month in South Africa

It marks the end of Disability Month in South Africa, which is commemorated between 3 November and 3 December every year. The theme for 2019 was “Together Building South Africa Inclusive of Disability Rights”.

Why observance of Disability Awareness day is vital

More than 1 billion living with disabilities worldwide face barriers to inclusion in many key aspects of society. For example, people are excluded from access to society with regards to transportation and employment.

Most of these inclusions stem from stigma and discrimination directed towards persons with disabilities, which in turn prevents people from participating in many activities taken for granted.

“Persons with disabilities must be able to fulfil their role in society and participate on an equal basis with others. It is important to focus on the ability and not on the disability of an individual.”

South African Government

How to combat disability stigma

  • Stigma and discrimination can only be fought through raising awareness and creating empowerment. Epilepsy South Africa shared a few examples of how South African citizens can end stigma.
  • Develop a coherent and comprehensive national strategy to conscientise society and media about the negative effects of stigmatisation of, prejudices and stereotypes about persons with disabilities.
  • Increasing equitable access to communication, information and community public participation platforms for all persons with disabilities by strengthening existing and developing new measures that remove barriers to information and communication.
  • Develop a system to ensure consistent barrier-free access for persons with disabilities to justice across the justice value chain.
  • Strengthened and expanded protection measures in place to protect children and adults with disabilities in institutionalised settings such as special school boarding facilities, mental health care facilities, residential facilities.
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