The spotlight is on the need for greater protections and opportunities for the 1.2 billion people with disabilities worldwide ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics starting on Aug. 24.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the International Disability Alliance launched the decade-long WeThe15 campaign in 30 countries around the world on Thursday to call for inclusion and equal treatment of people with disabilities by lighting up more than 125 landmarks purple, a color associated with the disability community. 

The iconic landmarks including Rome’s Colosseum, the London Eye, New York City’s Empire State Building, Canada’s Niagara Falls, and Tokyo’s Skytree tower, were lit up as part of the campaign named after the 15% of the global population who live with disabilities. 

Paris City Hall is lit up to celebrate the launch of the International Paralympic Committee’s WeThe15 campaign on Aug. 19, 2021 in Paris, France.
Image: Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images for International Paralympic Committee

FNB Stadium is photographed lit up in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Ray Herbst

The campaign received support from the Paralympics, the Special Olympics, and several United Nations agencies. 

“WeThe15 aims to be the biggest ever human rights movement for persons with disabilities and aims to put disability right at the heart of the inclusion agenda, alongside ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation,” IPC President Andrew Parsons said in a statement issued to Global Citizen.

“By uniting several leading international organizations and the world’s 1.2 billion persons with disabilities behind one common movement, we will make a tangible and well overdue difference for the planet’s largest marginalized group,” Parsons added.

Disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic that has exacerbated inequalities, people with disabilities continue to face barriers in society such as discrimination, and limited access to education, employment, and social services. 

The Supertree Grove at the Gardens by the Bay is lit up on Aug. 19, 2021 in Singapore.
Image: Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images for International Paralympic Committee

The London Eye is specially lit in support of the forthcoming Paralympic Games in Tokyo Aug. 9, 2021 in London, England.
Image: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

The WeThe15 campaign organizers also shared a short film documenting the daily lives of 40 people with disabilities from around the world that will air during the Paralympics opening ceremony. The film moves away from stereotypes and rather than show people with disabilities as inspiring heroes, depicts them as being flawed people with a sense of humor. 

One person featured in the film highlights: “We’re not special. We’re definitely human.”

The Tokyo Skytree is illuminated in purple colored light on August 19, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
Image: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images for International Paralympic Committee

Victoria Bridge is seen lit purple in Brisbane, Australia.
Image: Brisbane City Council


Demand Equity

125 Iconic Landmarks Just Lit Up Purple for Disability Inclusion

By Leah Rodriguez