Over 1 billion people around the world live with a disability. Today, on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we aim to promote their rights and well-being, which have historically been overlooked and marginalized.
First proclaimed in 1992 by the United Nations, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities is not only a day for championing the rights of people living with disabilities, but is also intended to increase awareness of the challenges these individuals face globally.
This year, governments, organizations, and individuals will come together on Dec. 3 to empowering people living with disabilities and call for more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable development that will “leave no one behind” in the fight against poverty.
Among them, Global Citizen and its partner Coty will mark the occasion by launching a campaign dedicated to reducing inequality for people living with disabilities around the world together with their first actions around the issue. The campaign and actions will focus toward tearing down the stigmas and barriers that keep those living with disabilities and in extreme poverty from rising out of economic marginalization.
Worldwide, 1 in 7 people lives with a disability. Despite the fact that such a significant portion of the population lives with a disability, these individuals experience frequent discrimination and battle stigma daily. Many people living with disabilities are from developing countries and live in poverty and the inequality and discrimination they face often make it difficult for them to rise out of poverty.
People with disabilities, “the world’s largest minority,” tend to have poorer health outcomes, lower education rates, and have access to fewer economic opportunities, in addition to experiencing higher rates of poverty, according to the UN.
Poverty compounds the barriers people with disabilities encounter in accessing essential public goods and services like healthcare, transportation, and education. Half of people with disabilities cannot afford healthcare and 80% of persons with disabilities live in developing countries where access to quality health services is limited.
Children living with disabilities are especially vulnerable and are four times as likely to experience violence as compared to children who do not live with disabilities. Only 1 out of 10 children living with disabilities in developing countries attends school, drastically reducing their chances of rising out of extreme poverty.
In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) sets standards for the construction of public and commercial buildings and government facilities so that they are accessible to wheelchair users and those living with other disabilities. However, these requirements do not address many of the social, economic, and environmental barriers many people with disabilities experience day to day and are not the norm in every country.
Around the world, people with disabilities are often excluded from participating in society and as a result, often go unseen and unheard by the general public. This is also true of media representation of the disability community. Only 2.4% of all speaking characters in television were depicted as living with a disability, according to a study in 2016.
To achieve a more equitable and inclusive world, people living with disabilities must be included in conversations about policies and development. To combat the discrimination they face, all resources must be made accessible to them including health care, education, and economic opportunities.
To end extreme poverty by 2030 and achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals demands that the inequalities faced by people living with disabilities in developing countries and around the world be sharply reduced, if not consigned to history.