International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Achieving Sustainable Development

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is commemorated on December 3. The aim is to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all areas of society and development, as well as to raise awareness of their situation in all aspects of life.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is commemorated on December 3. The aim is to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all areas of society and development, as well as to raise awareness of their situation in all aspects of life.

 

According to the United Nations, there are 1.3 billion people with disabilities in the world, 80% of whom live in developing countries. On the other hand, it is estimated that one in five women is likely to suffer a disability in her lifetime and 46% of people over 60 years of age have a disability.

 

Sustainable Development Goals for, with and by persons with disabilities

 

In the face of the various crises we are currently facing, the planet is not on track to achieve several of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Preliminary findings of the United Nations Disability and Development Report 2023 indicate that the world is even further away from achieving several SDGs for persons with disabilities.

 

Historically, persons with disabilities have been marginalized and are often among the furthest behind in achieving these goals. For that reason, there is a need to redouble and accelerate efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for, with and by persons with disabilities.

 

A radical shift in commitment, solidarity, financing and action is essential. In this regard, with the adoption of the Political Declaration of the recent SDG Summit, world leaders have renewed their commitment to achieve sustainable development and shared prosperity for all, with a focus on policies and actions targeted especially at the poorest and most vulnerable, including persons with disabilities.

 

Promoting inclusion at all levels

 

On the commemoration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, António Guterres, UN Secretary-General states: “Persons with disabilities continue facing systemic discrimination and barriers that restrict their meaningful inclusion in all areas of society. Truly sustainable development for persons with disabilities requires a laser-like focus on their needs and rights — not only as beneficiaries, but as active contributors across social, economic and political life.

 

This means ensuring that persons with disabilities are at every decision-making table, in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and across countries’ efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals — from poverty eradication, to health, education and climate action”.

 

Children and adolescents with disabilities

 

Worldwide, one in ten children has a disability. Children with disabilities are one of the most marginalized and excluded groups in society, and their rights are widely violated. Compared to their non-disabled peers, they are more likely to experience the consequences of social, economic, and cultural inequity. On a daily basis, they face negative attitudes, stereotypes, stigma, violence, abuse and isolation, as well as a lack of adequate policies and laws, educational and economic opportunities.

 

Compared to their peers, children with disabilities are less likely to have adequate nutrition, access to health services, attend school, participate in voicing their opinions, and have their needs taken into account in planning and response to emergencies and humanitarian crises. Unfortunately, in many countries the response to the situation of children with disabilities is mainly limited to abandonment, neglect or institutionalization.

 

Children with disabilities should be at the center of all efforts to forge inclusive societies, as they have the same rights as others and, rather than recipients of assistance, are agents of change and self-determination. In addition, exclusion leads to these children being less likely to work as adults, experiencing health problems and being more dependent on their families and government services.

 

To ensure that all children and adolescents with disabilities in Latin America and the Caribbean grow up healthy, protected, educated and able to reach their full potential, UNICEF’s Regional Office prioritizes its work in four areas:

 

  1. Information gathering and monitoring of living conditions.
  2. Promoting inclusive education.
  3. Promotion of inclusive early childhood development.
  4. Promoting the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the planning and response to emergencies and humanitarian crises.

 

By: Juan Carlos Ugarelli

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