Brussels—The International Day of Persons with Disabilities – 3 December- was proclaimed in 1992 by the United Nations. Since then, the European Commission, to mark this date, has celebrated the European Day of Persons with Disabilities to show that people with disabilities across Europe face common challenges, concerns and needs, and they have the right to equality of opportunity.
On this occasion, the European Commission's DG for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion and the European Disability Forum organise the annual conference focused on children and young people with disability under the theme: "Growing together in a barrier-free Europe".
Nowadays, around 15 per cent of the world’s population lives with disabilities, with at least 1 in 10 being children and 80% living in developing countries. Children with disabilities continue to be amongst the most excluded and discriminated people within our society.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) approved in 2001 and entered into force in 2008, pays special attention to the obligations of governments in ensuring that the rights of children with disabilities are protected. In particular, article 7 states the protection of children with disabilities and, in the same direction and article 24 reports that persons with disabilities have a right to education within an inclusive system, which they must be able to exercise on the basis of equal opportunity. “[…]. However, adopting and ratifying the CRPD is not sufficient, the Convention need to be implemented. IF calls on governments to tackle inequality and advance persons with disabilities’ rights and to make progress to enable access to special and mainstream services.
Moreover, in this context the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989 and ratified in 1990 (by all the United Nations member states, except the United States and Somalia), addresses the needs of children and sets a minimum standard to guarantee the protection of their rights.
Generally, inaccessible transports and buildings or/and lack of adequate health care and rehabilitation, among others, drive people with disabilities to experience poorer health, lower educational services and fewer economic opportunities. IF believes that it is possible to eradicate the barriers, stigma and discrimination, and to build inclusive societies in which people with disabilities are enabled to fulfil their rights.
This year's Conference represents an opportunity to contribute to fostering social inclusion and to raise awareness about the importance of establishing accessible environments for people with disabilities.