“As the world recovers from the pandemic, we must ensure that the aspirations and rights of persons with disabilities are included and accounted for in a -inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 world. This vision will only be achieved through active consultation with persons with disabilities and their representative organizations.” - António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General
This year, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities will be commemorated throughout the week of 30 November - 4 December in conjunction with the 13th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This day aims to promote the rights and wellbeing of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and increases awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic, and cultural life.
According to the World Health Organisations (WHO) World Report on Disability, 15 percent of the world’s population, or more than 1 billion people, are living with disability. Of this number, it is estimated 450 million are living with a mental or neurological condition, and two-thirds of these people will not seek professional medical help, largely due to stigma, discrimination and neglect. Even under normal circumstances, persons with disabilities are less likely to access health care, education, employment, and to participate in the community. An integrated approach is required to ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind. Disability inclusion will result in a COVID19 response and recovery that better serves everyone, more fully suppressing the virus, as well as building back better.
Hence, the theme for this year is “Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World”. Disability inclusion is an essential condition to upholding human rights, sustainable development, peace, and security. It will provide for more agile systems capable of responding to complex situations, reaching the furthest behind first. It is also central to the promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to leave no one behind.
Realising the importance of defending the rights of disabled youth, many international organisations, governmental bodies, NGOs, and media organisations have been contributing through many programmes and initiatives. We, at the World Assembly of Youth (WAY), seek to increase the awareness and understanding of public towards all issues encountered by disabled people, youth included. This is an opportunity to highlight how far we have come in recognising persons with disabilities as just another manifestation of diversity in our communities, and to stand in support of a society that embraces that diversity in all its forms and shapes.
In partnership with other stakeholders, we have taken many actions that support education for disabled youth and convention on their rights. The suspension of a face-to-face formal and non-formal education, created an opportunity to improve the educational aspects for disabled youth, and made it more inclusive and innovative via the use of digital solutions, tools and resources. It is imperative that moving forward, we take the necessary steps to build back better in a disability-inclusive manner.