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International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2017

This image shows an 11 year old girl from Vanuatu smiling at the camera with her hands held above her (sign of victory) as her friends looks on from behind her
© Erin Johnson/ CBM Australia
Kera, 11, from Vanuatu: “I like to sing with my friends.”

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), also known as World Disability Day is annually observed on 3 December each year. This Day aims to promote an awareness of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and inclusion of persons with disabilities.

On this Day we highlight the contribution that men, women and children with disabilities make to their families, communities and societies – and highlight the benefits for everyone of greater inclusion. Here’s how we will be celebrating!

This year, our focus for IDPD is on disability inclusion and work. Many people with disabilities in poor communities find it difficult to earn a living because they can’t access education or training, face prejudice and discrimination or cannot access resources or loans to get started.

Disability and Development, a critical Human Rights Issue

To mark International Day of the Rights of persons with Disabilities on December 3rd, and International Human Rights Day on December 10th, the European Disability and Development Week will be celebrated next week. This is an initiative by the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) of which CBM is an active member.

The aim of this initiative, which will have its second edition this year, is to raise awareness amongst officials and other NGO partners about the importance of realising the rights of persons with disabilities in both development and humanitarian work. The week will bring to the forefront lived experience and voices of persons with disabilities from the Global South, in order to highlight challenges and barriers to full inclusion, but also to celebrate achievements and progress over the last years. CBM will contribute by organising two main events: One focusing on inclusion of persons with disabilities in humanitarian work and the other on promoting inclusion through education and employment.

Interview with Lars Bosselmann – International Advocacy and Alliances Director at CBM

What are the most challenging issues in the process of the transformation towards a sustainable and resilient society for all? And how can we address them?

One of the critical issues is time. While transformational change never happens overnight, the reality is that we do not have much more time to waste. This becomes especially evident when looking at the issue of climate change! Another key to achieve transformational change is participation of people in all areas of economic, social, political and cultural life. And this is not only a human rights issue or a moral imperative, it is also in the economic and societal interest of countries to strive for full and equal participation of people. It is well established that societies where people have good opportunities for participation are producing better economic results in the long run, but are also more peaceful societies. But in far too many places around the world full participation and inclusion of people are not the rule. And this is also true for far too many persons with disabilities.

What are the actions and measures that the governments, civil society and other stakeholders have been or will be engaged to ensure that all stages of development are inclusive of and accessible for persons with disabilities?

Over the last years, the rights of persons with disabilities made significant progress as they are increasingly recognised by the international community in key human rights, development and humanitarian frameworks. This does not only mean inclusion of the word “disability” in those key texts, it obviously provides the foundation for an inclusive and accessible implementation phase. And this is where the most important measure should always be - to include persons with disabilities and their representative organisations in all stages of implementation. This is the only sustainable and inclusive way to realise inclusive development, as only the guidance and expertise of people with disabilities themselves will be able to produce the solutions that are really needed. Following that key principle, areas that are critical to look at are for example budget allocations and how they promote or hinder inclusion of persons with disabilities, access to basic services such as education, health care and employment, as all of them are key determents of fulfilling lives.

What efforts can be made to improve the implementation of disability inclusive development, especially in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and other global development agendas?

It is obvious that the challenges are immense to make inclusive development a reality for all. While these challenges can certainly not be limited to a question of money, ignoring the financial aspect would also be a mistake. Additional investments are needed for example in education, social protection and many other services, in order to implement disability-inclusive development. And this will only be achieved with a high degree of political will, a will that is renewed during the course of the coming years. The fact that the rights of persons with disabilities are now included in so many international frameworks shows a stronger commitment to inclusion than ever before, but without the continuous fight for this commitment to become real, it will not implement itself just because it is stated in many international documents. It takes people and their action to make things happen!

Fight against NTDs

©CBM/Bugbee
Patients queue for screening examinations at the Mogil eye camp in Kenya.
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are causes and consequences of poverty, disability and marginalization. They disproportionately affect the world’s poorest communities and can have profound physical, mental, social and socioeconomic effects on those who lack the resources for prevention, treatment and care.

Have a look at CBM’s Neglected Tropical Diseases Report 2017 and read this blog post highlighting the case for participation and human rights based approaches in the fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Language is Life

©CBM
Kwemal, 55, from Vanuatu works as a tailor from home
Imagine what your life would be like if you didn’t have a language. Without a recognised form of communication, would you still have gone to school? Would you have a job? What about interacting with your family, friends and community – would that be possible without words?

Read this compelling story about three determined women in Vanuatu who, despite being deaf are determined to be financially independent.

The importance of Inclusive Eye Health

©CBM
Friana, 20, from Vanuatu: “I have a name; don’t call me by my disability.”
For International Day of People with Disabilities, David Lewis OAM - CBM Focal Point for Inclusion in Eye Health talks about the importance of inclusive eye health.

'For us, in the words of the Sustainable Development Goals, Inclusive Eye Health means “leaving on-one behind!”

Include Us

©CBM
Nelly, the National Coordinator of Vanuatu Disability Promotion and Advocacy Association: “I lead, I advocate, I won’t let you stop us!”
“I’m happy that I am a woman with disabilities and I am a leader…I’m not only advocating for me, but for my members as well.”
Read this inspiring blog post about Nelly - a leader, an advocate and the National Coordinator of Vanuatu Disability Promotion and Advocacy Association (the national Disabled People’s Organisation).

The blog also includes an inspirational new film made by our CBM colleagues in Australia about including women and girls with disabilities.



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