International Day Of Persons With Disabilities

by Allana Grant

5 months ago

“Disability equals diversity, not disadvantage.”

This is the message the UN was striving to promote on the annual ‘International Day of Persons with Disabilities’ yesterday, Sunday 3rd of December.

First observed in 1992, when the UN’s General Assembly proclaimed it should be an annual event in resolution 47/3; the purpose of this international day is to raise awareness of the issues facing an estimated one billion people worldwide who live with a disability, and to mobilise support to safeguard their dignity, human rights and well-being. Not only that, it also represents an unrivalled opportunity to highlight the positive impact on society that integrating people with disabilities, in to every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life could have.

Each year, the UN announces a theme to give the international day a particular focus, and the programme of commemorative events it stages being built around it. 2017’s theme was 'transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all'. Launching it earlier this year, the UN referred us to the pledge to 'leave no one behind' set out in its 2030 agenda for sustainable development; urging governments, persons with disabilities and their representative organisations, academic institutions and the private sector to work as a team to achieve the sustainable development goals.

This year’s official celebrations

Events took place worldwide to mark the day, but the official commemoration, organised by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), took place at the UN Headquarters in New York City.  

DESA collaborated with UN member states, academic institutions, disability organizations, and the private sector, to name just a few, to put together a diverse programme of academic and cultural events; the opening of which included a message from the UN Secretary-General and statements from the President of the 72nd session of the General Assembly amongst others. The day featured panel discussions on the themes of 'persons with disabilities as agents of change', and 'building future societies for all'; as well as a side event showcasing the benefits of innovative technologies for sustainable developments in health care.

One particularly highly anticipated event, was the movement installation which was performed by Heidi Latsky Dance. It saw 20- 30 people with differing body shapes, dressed in white, come together to form a moving gallery; signifying a metaphor for inclusion. It was just one of many similar events which were staged simultaneously worldwide.

To find out more about the 'International Day Of Persons with disabilities' go to: