The annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December, aims to promote:
- an understanding of disability issues
- the rights of persons with disabilities
- gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of the political, social, economic and cultural life of their communities.
In South Africa, 3 December also marks the beginning of the Disability Awareness Month.
The day provides an opportunity to mobilise action to achieve the goal of full and equal enjoyment of human rights and participation in society by persons with disabilities, established by the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1982.
The estimated one billion people living with disabilities worldwide face many barriers to inclusion in many key aspects of society. As a result, people with disabilities do not enjoy access to society on an equal basis with others, which includes areas of transportation, employment, and education as well as social and political participation.
The right to participate in public life is essential to create stable democracies, active citizenship and reduce inequalities in society.
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. Often, the societal image of persons with disabilities is impacted by attitudes based on stigma and discrimination, as well as archaic ideas about disability and persons with disabilities that are often the greatest barrier to their full and equal participation in society and development on an equal basis with others.
It is important to note that disability is part of the human condition, and that all of us either are or will become disabled to one degree or another during the course of our lives.
By promoting empowerment, real opportunities for people are created. This enhances their own capacities and supports them in setting their own priorities.
Empowerment involves investing in people - in jobs, health, nutrition, education, and social protection. When people are empowered they are better prepared to take advantage of opportunities, they become agents of change and can more readily embrace their civic responsibilities.
Source: United Nations Enable