When persons with disabilities lead and participate, the whole world benefits
Every year on 3rd December, the world marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, promoting the participation and inclusion of over 1.5 billion people who live with some kind of disability today.
This year, the International Day celebrated the leadership of persons with disabilities in making the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development a reality.
“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,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his message for the day.
He stressed that the UN is determined to lead by example on disability inclusion. The most tangible proof of that is the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy launched in June last year to raise the UN’s standards and performance on disability inclusion across all areas of work around the world.
Speaking at the International Day celebrations at the UN New York Headquarters, Assistant Secretary-General at UN DESA Elliot Harris said that the 2030 Agenda cannot be implemented unless persons with disabilities can participate meaningfully as agents of change. “When persons with disabilities lead and participate, the whole world benefits,” he stressed.
Activists for the rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities also spoke at the event, sharing their vision for a more inclusive, tolerant world that they would like to see in the year 2030.
“From the perspective of persons with disabilities, I envision a world where a lot of my accomplishments, what I am talking about, what’s [considered] so ‘exceptional’ — I want to see that being the norm,” said Thomas Iland, author, motivational speaker and certified public accountant who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 13.
“I want people to really tap into their own potential so that they can become their best selves and live the life that they want,” he added.
Annika Emmert, a 14-year-old sport and disabilities advocate shared her inspiring story of finding strength and resilience through playing soccer: “It’s one of the things I’ve never wanted to give up, no matter what people said to me. Throughout my life, other players have always thought of me as an easy mark and always seen my differences as a weakness. But I’ve always proven them wrong.”
For more information: International Day of Persons with Disabilities