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International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2011 "Together for a better world for all: including persons with disabilities in development"

People with disabilities represent some 1 billion or 15 per cent of the global population. They are the largest minority in the world. This year's International Day of Persons with Disabilities focuses attention on the need to include persons with disabilities and their communities in development efforts. In working towards this aim, everyone has a role to play.

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People with disabilities represent some 1 billion or 15 per cent of the global population. They are the largest minority in the world. Photo:/Brown P.
In the labour market, disabled persons make up some 785 to 975 million of the working age population. Yet most do not work. While many are successfully employed and fully integrated into society, as a group, they often face disproportionate poverty and unemployment. Photo:/Brown P.
Four-fifths of people with disabilities live in developing countries. About 82 per cent live below the poverty line. Photo:ILO/Fiorente A.
Mounting evidence points to the high economic costs of excluding people with disabilities from the world of work. The ILO has recently estimated that the costs of such exclusion can range from 3 to 7 per cent of a country's GDP. Photo:/Fiorente A.
Unless disabled persons are brought into the mainstream of development programmes and projects, it will be nearly impossible to achieve the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of halving poverty by 2015. Photo:/Villafranca V.
Disabled women often experience double discrimination, due to their gender and to their disability. This makes disabled girls and women less likely to access education, vocational training, rehabilitation programmes and employment compared to non-disabled females and their disabled male counterparts. Photo:/Brown P.
To create a better world for all it is essential that active measures be introduced to include men and women with disabilities in all employment promotion, poverty reduction, and social and economic development initiatives at the country level.
The women shown in the picture are employed at the Hanoi-based company Chula Fashion which specializes in creating one-of-a kind garments. The company employs about 55 workers, of which approximately 80 per cent of whom have a disability. The majority of these employees are hearing-impaired. Photo:/Sanchez J.
Everyone has a role to play in ensuring that persons with disabilities are included in the development process and have access to opportunities for a better life. Photo:/Fiorente A.
Governments need to enshrine the rights and entitlements of disabled citizens through legislation and policy; to provide resources that help to ensure that general services, including health, education and training, are accessible to disabled people. Photo:ILO/Lord R.
Employers are instrumental in promoting work as well as training opportunities for women and men with disabilities. On-the-job training can be an effective way to enable people with disabilities to enter the competitive labour market. Photo:/Brown P.
Nid was 19 year old when she graduated high school from the Udonthani School for the Deaf in Thaïland. She was known for having a very good memory and following instructions well. Her supervisors received training in sign language and the company also organized a human resource session to allow Nid and her prospective supervisor to introduce each other before working together. Photo:/Brown P.
Workers' organizations are uniquely positioned to promote equal opportunities for the equal treatment of disabled workers. One way is to recruit, organize and integrate persons with disabilities into the movement, another is to promote positive action in order to foster their inclusion in the workplace, raise awareness among managers and staff, and facilitate any required adjustments or adaptations. Photo:/Brown P.
Organizations of persons with disabilities have a critical role in representing disabled people, raising awareness of disability issues, lobbying and advocating for the rights of disabled people and holding accountable those responsible. Photo:/Amarasinghe G.
Both the UN and ILO have made a significant contribution to standards setting in the area of disability and work. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCPRD), together with the ILO Convention concerning the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment of Disabled Persons (No. 159), as well as the ILO Code of Practice on Managing Disability in the Workplace (2001), provide a platform for the inclusion of disabled persons in all aspects of the workplace environment.

Blind man pictured above uses a screen reading software to help carry out his work. Photo:/Fiorente A.
The ability to apply our skills and knowledge is empowering. Experience shows that when persons with disabilities are empowered to participate and lead the process of development, their entire community benefits, as their involvement creates opportunities for all persons, whether or not they have a disability.

Cham Sophal is a member of the Khmer Women's Handicraft Association in Cambodia, which benefits from ILO WEDGE-supported business skills training, business association membership, financial education and credit. Synergies such as these make a great difference in the lives of people with disabilities who are struggling to change their economic condition. Photo:/Sanchez J.
Tok Vanna, from Cambodia, gave up begging when he learned to sell books from Sem Sovantha, who already was a successful bookseller. Sem taught him the necessary technical and business skills during an ILO project on Alleviating Poverty through Peer Training in Cambodia. The project sets up local businesses in rural areas to train and mentor disabled people in entrepreneurship and business management. Photo:/ILO / Ability Asia
Eleni Meshesha is an award-winning entrepreneur who is Deaf. She produces handcrafted beaded necklaces and bracelets, in addition to a number of other goods using recycled materials. Over the past years, she participated in several skills training and business development initiatives, including the ILO-Women's Entrepreneurship Development and Gender Equality project (WEDGE). After nine years in business, Eleni has established a network of six suppliers whom she has trained in bead jewelry design; three are disabled. Photo:/Fiorente A.
The ILO's Training for Rural Economic Empowerment (TREE) programme also ensures a disability-responsive approach which enables its practitioners to include disabled people in the programme. Photo:/ILO / Ability Asia
19-year-old seamstress Srey Vy uses her disabled hands to manoeuvre pieces of fabric around her sewing machine. Skills training provided by an ILO-IPEC project enabled her to obtain a loan from the Cambodian Hope Organization (CHO), an implementing partner of the ILO's Women's Entrepreneurship Development and Gender Equality project (WEDGE). Through the programme, she was able to purchase her own sewing machine. She's already paid back the loan. Photo:/Brown P.
Positive change can be effected when we work together. The ILO has played and will continue to play a central role in developing targeted initiatives aimed at ensuring that those who are particularly disadvantaged are able to fulfil their full potential and play an active role in the workplace. Photo:/Rawiwan M.

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Last update: Wednesday - 26 February 2020