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International day of persons with disabilities

Hello! I am back to present you another important date! The 3rd of December takes place the International Day of Persons with Disabilities every year. I would like in this article to write about why it is important this day, what is a disability, and refer to few world policies about this topic.

Theme 2022

Every year for International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the United Nations develops a theme, so society can work about it focusing on that topic. For this year, the theme is “Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fueling an accessible and equitable world.”  It is focus on the innovation (in any way, such as political or technological) as a way to develop societies more accessible and equative. For United Nations, respecting the rights of people with disabilities is not just a matter of justice, but also helps to a better future society, it is an inversion in ourselves.

What is disability?

The concept of disability is a complex concept that has evolved across the time. Nowadays, in modern Europe, thanks to the efforts of social movements of people with disabilities, we have overcome views that focused on the difficulties disabled people suffered due to their healthy state. Those views were common in the model biomedical-rehabilitator.

Nowadays, the concept of disability is based on the social model. It is focus more in the physical barriers and attitudes (so related with this year’s theme) that limit the daily life of people with disabilities and don’t let them participate in our society in a full way.

From this perspective, disabled is a person with one or more physical disabilities, mental (no matter if it is for psychic or intellectual reason), or sensitive, no matter if it is temporary or permanent, who in the moment to interact finds different obstacles present in their environment, being impossible or restricted his/her plenty participation in society, with the same opportunities that the rest of the people have.

Why to have a day about persons with disabilities

People with disabilities are a minority in this world. They have more difficulties than any other collective in all levels. Specially if we think about the access to education, employment, economic issues etc.

And in most of the cases the problem is because of the lack of resources invested to improve their lives. Such as access to means of transport or access to information. I would like to add that many times they suffer social discrimination. Furthermore, in most of the places there is a lack of a proper legislation. All that makes their life more difficult.

Also, We have to take into account that people with disabilities are more vulnerable. Also, they suffer violence because of their state. That happens even when they are kids, and for the rest of their lives. Ignorance is the main reason for discrimination when we are talking about disabled people. If these barrios are eliminated, people with disabilities are able to participate in a productive and active way in society.

Some policies to integrate persons with disabilities

The most important one is the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), developed by the United Nations in 2006. In this day, it has been ratificated by 185 states. The Convention is intended as a human rights instrument with an explicit, social development dimension. It adopts a broad categorization of persons with disabilities. It reaffirms that all persons with all types of disabilities must enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms. Apart from this convention, United Nations developed an strategy in 2019. It focus on the importance of inclusion (further than integration) to achieve this more fair society. Few interesting videos you can find here. We can also see this in 2030 Agenda.

Moving to Europe, European Commission showed in 2021 a strategy for the rights of people with disabilities. The 3 main themes are: EU rights, independent living and autonomy, and non-discrimination and equal opportunities.

Talking about Croatia, the situation is not the best. Reading some articles as the ones I will share the link here and here, we can see there is still much to do. It is interested to know about the Croatian Union of Associations of Persons with Disabilities (SOIH), who are part of the European disability forum and help to improve the situation in Croatia. You can find them in Zagreb.

Despite policies can be improved or not, it is also in our hands to help people with disabilities in how we act and behave with them. Don’t discriminate, they are one more like the others. Help them when needed, that is the best way to celebrate this day. But not just for one day, also the rest of the year.

See you soon for another topic!