On this Day the ILO calls for a concerted effort to expand opportunities for decent and productive work for persons with disabilities as one of the most effective channels of inclusive development.
New global estimates show that the number of disabled persons is higher than previously assumed, making up some one billion or 15 per cent of the world’s population, the largest minority in the world. In the lives of persons with disabilities, stigma, discrimination and neglect all too often mean that they experience poorer health, lower educational achievements, lower employment and labour force participation rates and higher rates of poverty than the rest of the population.
This evidence, combined with ILO findings indicating the loss to GDP of up to 7 per cent due to the exclusion of persons with disabilities from the labour market, should motivate broad-based action to enable people with disabilities to be actively engaged in development processes which yield benefits for all. Such action would allow progress to be made towards meeting international commitments reflected in the Millennium Development Goals, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and ILO conventions, in particular, the Convention concerning Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) (No. 159) and the Convention on Discrimination in Employment and Occupation (No. 111).
Enterprises, including small and medium-sized enterprises which are the main source of job creation – play a key role in expanding employment opportunities for women and men with disabilities. The ILO has set up a Global Business and Disability Network comprising multinational companies, employers’ organizations, business networks on disability, representatives of disabled persons’ organizations and others. This network supports enterprise efforts to take disability into account in the workplace and in strategic business plans.
Organization is indispensable to progress on disability issues – trade unions are uniquely positioned in this regard. They can draw attention to disability-related issues in national consultation and negotiation processes and recruit, organize and integrate disabled persons into the movement. And at workplace level they can promote positive action for inclusion including awareness-raising among managers and staff, as well as on required adjustments or adaptations.
Governments must give direction, enshrining the rights and entitlements of disabled citizens to full participation in the labour market and society as a whole, through appropriate legislation, policy and implementation measures. This commitment should translate into resource allocation, particularly in areas such as health, education, training, and employment placement. Universal social protection floors which protect, empower and help to sustain demand, will also give effect to the right of persons with disabilities to enjoy such protection on an equal basis with others.
Promoting opportunities for decent work for people with disabilities is intrinsic to achieving a new era of social justice.
Working together we can create a better world for all.