INTERNATIONAL DAY OF DISABLED PERSONS Observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons - 3 December 2003:"A voice of our own"
3 December 2003
International Day of Disabled Persons has been observed by the United Nations on December 3rd since 1992. The date marks the anniversary of the General Assembly's adoption of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons. "The International Day of Disabled Persons provides an opportunity for governments, organizations of disabled persons and all in society to focus on the freedoms and potentials of persons with disabilities." Key thought for reflection:
The need to be seen as a unique human being is strong in all of us. But [people] with disabilities are often not given a chance to make themselves known as the unique human beings they are: the moment their disability is spotted ... they are boxed and labelled according to the prejudices of the viewer.
The International Day of Disabled Persons aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of disabled persons in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
The observance of the Day in 2003 will focus on giving a voice to the human experiences of disabled persons. The voice of persons with disabilities is seldom heard in the mainstream media. When persons with disabilities are portrayed, they are either stereotyped or presented as an inspiration for “overcoming” a disability. Observance of the Day should therefore be used to offer an opportunity for persons with disabilities to speak for themselves.
The theme of the Day is based on the goal of full participation and equality of persons with disabilities in social life and development, established by the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, adopted by the General Assembly in 1982. During the almost twenty years since the adoption of the World Programme of Action, initiatives have been taken to realize its goals worldwide.
Completing ten years, the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities represent a strong moral and political commitment of Governments to take action to attain equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities. Standard Rule 1 calls for States to act to raise awareness in society about persons with disabilities, their rights, their needs, their potential and their contribution.