Address at the Award Ceremony for International Day of Disabled Persons Photographic Competition

by Mr Guy Thijs, Deputy Regional Director, ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Statement | Bangkok | 03 December 2007

Your Excellency Deputy Prime Minister General Sonthi, Honoured guests.

Welcome and thank you for coming.

This is a day for celebrating --
- for celebrating International Day of Disabled Persons;
- for celebrating people with disabilities and their achievements in the workplace;
- and for celebrating the work of the photographers and the fine pictures that bring us together tonight.

As you know December 3rd is the United Nations International Day of Disabled Persons. This is an annual event. It promotes the understanding of disability issues and mobilizes support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.

This year the theme is Decent Work for Persons with Disabilities. To mark it the ILO, Disabled Persons International, Irish Aid and the Embassy of Finland joined forces to sponsor a photo contest.

But this was more than a photo competition. It was a major awareness campaign, bringing attention to the situation of the more than 400 million people with disabilities in this region, and particularly to the 250 million of working age.

These pictures show some of the ways people with disabilities support themselves and their families. Today, we honour their achievements, their drive to succeed and their contribution to their countries’ development and productivity.

The ILO’s Director General, Juan Somavia, described decent work as; “work that meets people's basic aspirations, not only for income, but for security for themselves and their families, without discrimination or harassment, and providing equal treatment for women and men with and without a disability.”

This is the goal we seek. The conditions that you see in some of these photos may not meet this description. That’s because there is still much to do. Rather, these photos reflect the reality of the work that disabled people have today. And for every person in these photos, there are millions more like them who face significant obstacles in achieving the decent work they are entitled to ---health care, education, training, basic human rights.

In recognition of this need, one year ago the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

As we celebrate tonight the achievement of these photographers, and the disabled people they show, we also call upon countries across the region to ratify this Convention and work to ensure equality, social justice and rights for people with disabilities.

Ladies and gentleman, on behalf of the ILO and our cosponsors, I thank you for coming and I congratulate the winners.