International Day of Persons with Disabilities: A Day for All 3 December 2015, Message by ILO Director-General Guy Ryder

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 the contributions of disabled persons to our workplaces, our families, our schools and our communities. It also asks us to reaffirm our commitment to welcoming and celebrating disability as part of human diversity.

Disability is a fundamental expression of human diversity. Firstly, because people with disabilities are the world’s largest minority, representing some 15 per cent of the global population. And secondly, as persons of disability come from all countries, economic backgrounds and ethnicities, they are arguably the most diverse of all minority groups.

On this day we are reminded that there are still millions of women and men with disabilities who face exclusion from mainstream social, economic and political life. Yet we know from experience that when attitudinal and physical barriers are removed, people with disabilities can be as productive and reliable as those without disabilities.

Many workers’ and employers’ organizations have long taken a pioneering stand in championing the interests of disabled workers, and recently at the ILO 11 major international companies became the first signatories of the new ILO Global Business and Disability Network Charter. The Charter expresses their commitment to promoting and including persons with disabilities throughout their operations worldwide. It has a broad remit: be it from making the company premises and staff communications progressively more accessible to all employees with disabilities, to combating stigma and stereotypes faced by persons with disabilities.

While much has been achieved over the past years and persons with disabilities have gained recognition of their rights by countries around the globe, and with them their rightful place in society, there is also much work ahead. A majority of disabled persons still face barriers to enjoying decent work and a better life.

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.

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