Saturday 3 December marked 2016’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which saw disabled and able-bodied people alike celebrate the global contribution of the ‘world’s largest minority group’.
The annual event, which is a brainchild of the United Nations, has been taking place every year since 1992, and has the ongoing broad aim of raising the public’s awareness and understanding of all forms of disability, which affect a total of over one billion people – or 15% of the world’s entire population.
This year, the event’s organisers wanted to emphasise the fact that – although an ageing population and a rise in chronic illnesses means that the disabled population is higher than ever before – this huge section of society still faces discrimination in many different ways and throughout cultures.
Despite delivering a consistent message, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities does have a specific theme each year. The 2016 theme was ‘Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want’, which linked the event with the UN’s famous Sustainable Development Goals initiative. The ambitious goals, which can be studied in more detail in this UN infographic, include ‘guaranteeing equal and accessible education by building inclusive learning environments and providing the needed assistance for persons with disabilities’.
‘EMBRACE HUMANITY IN ALL ITS DIVERSITY’
A full programme of events was held in advance of the day on Friday 2 December at UN Headquarters in New York City, including a film festival, photographic exhibition and several conferences.
In his message accompanying the 2016 event, which will have been of interest to anybody who uses folding mobility scooters, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon closed by summing up the ultimate aim of the day: ‘Let us work together for the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in an inclusive and sustainable world that embraces humanity in all its diversity’.