International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Enabling policies for persons with disabilities are crucial to achieving SDGs

People with disabilities are the world’s largest minority, says ILO Director-General Guy Ryder. However, their right to productive employment and decent work is frequently denied.

Statement | 03 December 2016
Today, the United Nations and the world celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The ILO and other international organizations in Geneva have come together to join persons with disabilities in declaring this day A Day for All.

A Day for All invites us to recognize and celebrate the important contributions of disabled persons to our workplaces, our families, our schools and our communities. It also asks us to reaffirm our commitment to welcoming disability as a part of human diversity.

Decent work for all, including people with disabilities, is crucial to eradicating poverty and achieving the future we want, a future that leaves no one behind. This objective needs to be built in to strategies for realizing the Sustainable Development Goals.

People with disabilities are the world’s largest minority, representing some 15 per cent of the world’s population. About 80 per cent are of working age. However, the right of people with disabilities to productive employment and decent work is frequently denied.

They want to work and contribute to their families and societies. The familiar reality is that people with disabilities, particularly women with disabilities, face enormous attitudinal, physical and informational barriers to equal opportunities in the world of work. Compared to non-disabled persons, they experience higher rates of unemployment and economic inactivity and are at greater risk of insufficient social protection that is a key to reducing extreme poverty. Yet we know from experience that when these barriers are removed, people with disabilities can be as productive and reliable as those without disabilities.

The ILO has a longstanding commitment to promoting decent work for people with disabilities in the pursuit of our social justice mandate. One track of our strategy involves disability-specific initiatives aimed at overcoming particular disadvantages or barriers, while a second track seeks to ensure the inclusion of disabled persons in mainstream services and activities, such as skills training, employment promotion, social protection schemes and poverty reduction strategies.

In striving to achieve the goals of the ILO Disability Inclusion Strategy and Action Plan 2014-17 we are pleased to forge partnerships with the UN family, with our tripartite constituents – government, employers’ and workers’ organizations, organizations of people with disabilities and other stakeholders.

Today, we renew our commitment to achieving full and equal rights and participation in society for all women and men with disabilities. Working together, we can break down the barriers to decent work, so that every day will be A Day for All.