International Day of Persons with Disabilities

The future world of work must be fully inclusive of people with disabilities

“People with disabilities, with their skills and talents, are an important asset to the labour markets today and in the future,” says ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

Statement | 01 December 2017
The ILO’s founding mandate has always led it to promote greater equality of treatment and opportunities for persons with disabilities in the labour market in partnership with its tripartite constituents, members of the UN family, organizations of people with disabilities and other stakeholders.

One out of every seven people in the world has a disability and the vast majority of them are of working age. But most do not enjoy the right to work. We also know that the exclusion of people with disabilities from the labour market can cost national economies up to 7 per cent of GDP.

Today we must focus on those skills and talents and on what still needs to be done so that the right to productive employment and decent work is fulfilled for every person with a disability.

The need is well-recognized; the frameworks are available. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and international labour standards call for breaking down barriers to decent work for people with disabilities, while the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development point to a future in which sustainable development and decent work can only become a reality if persons with disabilities are included.

Encouragingly, the positive contributions people with disabilities can make to the world of work and society at large are increasingly recognized. Across the globe, governments, trade unions and employers and others are answering the call for action.

This year, once again, more companies have joined the ILO Global Business and Disability Network, and workers' associations worldwide are bolstering their disability inclusion practices. And to mark this year’s observance the ILO is launching new publications to support trade union action for the inclusion of persons with disabilities.

Disability must be taken more fully into account, from the promotion of non-discriminatory policies and labour market governance to the accessibility of technology.

Much has been achieved, but more needs to be done by all to make the world of work a world in which people with disabilities are truly and equally included.