EHRC Expert View 
Meti Atomsa
Disability Rights and Rights of Older Persons Department 

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is globally commemorated on December 3 each year to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. The day is also utilized to raise awareness among the public about the rights of persons with disabilities and the conscious and unconscious biases of the public against them. Various events including panel discussions, exhibitions, and different types of cultural activities are organized to mark the day. It is important, however, that these commemoration events also align with the day’s objective and message.

Persons with disabilities (PwDs) in Ethiopia, face numerous challenges including lack of access to education, health care, employment, social protection, and discrimination due to attitudinal barriers prevalent in the community. The government has primary obligations to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights including the responsibility to demonstrate its commitment by delivering tangible outcomes to ensure accessibility and inclusion of persons with disabilities. Other stakeholders should also demonstrate commitment and leadership by championing and advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities.

The global theme of the international day for this year, which was developed in consultation with the disability organizations and stakeholders is: “United in action to rescue and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for, with and by persons with disabilities.’’ The global campaign aims to pave ways to address barriers that hinder the achievement of the SDGs in ending poverty and ensuring that all people equally enjoy their human rights.

Government and nongovernment organizations marking the day may use the following guiding principles to ensure that their activities align with the main objective of commemorating the day:

  • Consult and Engage with the PwDs Community and their Organizations. In most cases, the commemoration of such days should be organized in collaboration with associations of persons with disabilities and this will have the importance of identifying priority areas for action, the best ways to address them, and getting the perspectives of the right holders starting from the design to the implementation of project or program activities.
  • Set Actionable Goals: Set actionable goals that help focus on activities that can be practically implemented and measurable and hold duty-bearers accountable for non-performances.
  • Sustainability: Ensure that all efforts and initiatives undertaken to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities are long-lasting, sustainable, and have a lasting impact.
  • Advocacy Strategy: Ensure the International Day is effectively utilized as a good opportunity to mobilize political will and commitment from all relevant stakeholders to advocate for policies and practices that promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.
  • Leverage the Potential of Social Media: ensure the effective use of both traditional and new media as well as innovative ways to reach a wide range of audiences and create an opportunity for people to learn from the lived experiences of persons with disabilities.
  • Demonstrate Accessibility and Inclusion: Ensure that accessibility and inclusion are properly planned and integrated with all the international day activities including disability-friendly and inclusive businesses, display assistive devices, etc. to demonstrate the importance of accessibility and inclusion.