International Day for People with Disabilities should be more than just a commemoration

Each passing celebration of the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities witnesses a growing enlightenment on the plight of persons with disabilities and the various forms disability can take shape.

The theme for the 2015 commemoration of the day is “Inclusion matters: Access and empowerment for people of all abilities”. Two major drivers for the theme are the preparations towards the United Nations’ Third Global Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development – Habitat III, in 2016, and creating opportunities for persons with disabilities through empowerment.

According to the World Health Organisation, 650 million people, which is ten percent of the world’s population today, are disabled, out of which 20 percent are poor. Despite these figures, provisions for disabilities are not specified in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which outline provisions for poverty, health, education, and environment.

Around the world, persons with disabilities are making their case for social inclusion. In September, University of Ilorin’s “2009 Best Graduating Student”, Ruth Omopariola Bolarinwa, who is partially deaf, called on government and private-owned establishments, as well as individuals, to address the issue of unemployment surrounding people such as herself in Nigeria.

Similarly, in the UK, disabled people are still fighting for inclusion, while emphasizing that people need to see ‘beyond the wheelchair’, which was recently a part of a social media campaign launched by blogger Sam Cleasby, #MoreThanMeetsTheEye.

As this year’s edition of International Day of Persons with Disabilities has passed, individuals, governments, and organisations need to develop concrete initiatives that encourage inclusion and empowerment for all persons.

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