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The Importance of Inclusion: International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Published: 23 November 2023
Updated: 01 December 2023
Ayna and Shuvo

In a world that thrives on diversity, it is crucial to recognise and celebrate the unique strengths and contributions of every individual. The International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), observed on December 3rd each year, provides us with an opportunity to shed light on the challenges faced by people with disabilities and those that care for them, and to foster inclusivity within our communities. It serves as a call to action for understanding, breaking barriers, and celebrating the richness that diversity brings to our communities.

A brief history of International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Established in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development. Over the years, it has evolved into a global observance that emphasises the importance of inclusivity, equality, and accessibility.

Some of the themes of the day in previous years have been:

  • 2022 ‘Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world.’
  • 2021 ‘Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.’
  • 2020 ‘Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 World.’
  • 2019 ‘Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda.’

Why do we need a dedicated awareness day for people with disabilities?

IDPD is a day when we reflect on the progress made in championing the rights of persons with disabilities and acknowledge the work that lies ahead. The significance of this day lies in its commitment to creating an environment where every individual, regardless of their abilities, has the opportunity to lead a fulfilling life. It serves as a reminder of the ongoing efforts to create a world that is accessible and inclusive for everyone.

As well as being an important day to increase visibility and awareness of the challenges faced by people with disabilities, it is also linked to the United Nation’s Disability Inclusion Strategy, which “provides the foundation for sustainable and transformative progress on disability inclusion through all pillars of the work of the United Nations: peace and security, human rights, and development.”

Did you know:

  • In India, only 61% of disabled children aged 5-19 years are attending educational institutions.
  • In Bangladesh, only 41% of children with disabilities aged 6-10 years are attending primary school and 24% of children with disabilities aged 11-16 years are attending secondary school.
  • In Bangladesh, 27% of persons with disabilities are employed.
  • Of the one billion population of persons with disabilities, 80% live in low- and middle-income countries

What is the theme for IDPD 2023?

Each year, IDPD focuses on a specific theme to address different aspects of disability rights and inclusion. The theme for 2023 is “United in action to rescue and achieve the SDGs for, with and by persons with disabilities."

Breaking barriers and celebrating achievements

One of the primary goals of IDPD is to break down barriers that hinder the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in society. This includes physical barriers, such as inaccessible buildings and transportation, as well as societal barriers like discrimination and stigma. The day encourages us to reflect on the progress made and the work that still needs to be done to create a truly inclusive world.

It's equally important to celebrate the achievements and contributions of people with disabilities. Many individuals have overcome obstacles to excel in various fields, proving that disability does not define a person's capabilities. By highlighting success stories, we inspire others and challenge stereotypes associated with disability.

Promoting inclusivity

Creating an inclusive society involves the active participation of everyone. Businesses, educational institutions, and communities can contribute by implementing accessible facilities, providing inclusive education, and promoting workplace diversity. By doing so, we not only comply with legal requirements but also create environments that empower and embrace everyone.

Supporting unpaid carers on International Day of Persons with Disabilities

It should come as no surprise that many disabled people rely on unpaid family carers to assist them with their day-to-day living. For the 1.3 billion people in the world who have considerable difficulty in functioning as a result of their disability, 24-hour care may be required which also impacts the life and employment opportunities of the family member or friend who provides the care.

High-income countries have invested heavily in adapting public buildings and transport to enable people with physical disabilities to be able to lead independent lives. Examples of this can be found everywhere from elevators in buildings to wheelchair ramps on buses. The same level of accessibility is often not available to those living in low- and middle-income countries, meaning the carer needs to accompany the person living with a disability every time they wish to leave the house.

There are numerous charities and NGOs who focus on improving the lives of people living with disabilities and many work with carers, enabling them to learn how to better look after the person with the disability. However, in many cases, the well-being and needs of the carer are not seen as a priority.

Ayna’s story

Ayna lives near Dhaka, Bangladesh and cares for her teenage grandson who has cerebral palsy. This is no small commitment for Ayna who is 60 years old, as Shuvo is fully dependent on her. She has also had to face stigma and isolation from her family and the community because of her dedication to Shuvo. Caring has taken its toll on her physical health and she has been living with constant knee and back pain.

Ayna is an active member of her local carers group. She describes the other group members as her friends and they in turn look out for her and Shuvo. A network of peers like this is vital when a carer does not have the support of other family members.

Ayna has also received medical treatment for her joint problems via the project’s health camps.

“I was in fear of going out before but now I can move outside whenever I need to. The carers project thinks of our needs before we have even thought of them ourselves,”

said Ayna.

Ayna has not been able to earn an income while caring for Shuvo and as she gets older, her options become even more limited. Through our work in Bangladesh, our livelihoods initiative was able to help Ayna. She was trained in poultry rearing and given five hens. After three months, she had earned enough through selling eggs to buy fifteen more hens, and then she added goats to her smallholding. She now earns enough to ensure she and her grandson can live comfortably. She is also involving Shuvo in the care of the animals so that he can learn the skills and start to contribute to their joint income.

Ayna says:

“The carers project has given me courage and that courage means I can support Shuvo for his future.”

Ayna Livelihood

Read more about Ayna’s story and how Carers Worldwide helped her

How to Participate in IDPD 2023

Participating in IDPD events and initiatives is a tangible way to show support.

  • Attend Local Events: Check for events in your community that commemorate IDPD. This could include seminars, workshops, and awareness campaigns.
  • Engage on Social Media: Join the conversation online by using official hashtags, sharing information, and participating in discussions about disability rights and inclusion.
    • #IDPD, #WorldDisabilityDay #EveryoneIncluded
  • Advocate for Inclusivity: Take the opportunity to advocate for inclusivity in your workplace, school, or community. Encourage others to learn more about the challenges faced by persons with disabilities.

Other Related Disability Awareness Days

We love to celebrate all these days and seek to help raise awareness of people who need additional support. It is worth remembering that the people who support individuals with these conditions need support, which is why we are advocates for Carers Day (our own day of support every year in October) and Carers Week.

Get involved to show your support this International Day of Persons with Disabilities

International Day of Persons with Disabilities is a call to action, urging us to recognise the value of diversity and work towards a world where everyone, regardless of ability, can fully participate and thrive.

On this day, we should also turn our thoughts to the millions of carers whose lives are restricted as a result of their caring duties and who have no external support. Here, at Carers Worldwide, we are the only charity working exclusively to meet the needs of carers in low- and middle-income countries. Let's work together to create a future where inclusivity for disabled people and their family carers is not just a goal but a reality.

If you would like to support the cause of carers in India, Bangladesh and Nepal then donate to carers.