International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2022
International Day of Persons with Disabilities is to raise awareness that people with disabilities often are seen as pitiful or ‘broken’. Too often we are thought about as we need to be fixed, and if that isn’t possible wehey need to be taken care of. This attitude towards people with disabilities turns us into marginalised people.
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Luckily, we have the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The UN adopted this international law in 2006 and countries have the option to ratify the CRPD, which most countries have done by now. Some countries (almost) immediately, like Germany and the UK, and other countries much later, like Finland and The Netherlands.
The Netherlands only ratified the treaty in 2016, ten years after its international adoption. The optional protocol, which stipulates that people can claim their rights, has not yet been ratified by the Netherlands. In short, the CRPD obliges society-wide equivalence (including accessibility), but if that does not happen, you cannot claim this right through international law. The result is embarrassing: six years after the introduction of the CRPD in the Netherlands, the social participation of people with disabilities is still far behind.
On December 3, we acknowledge the struggle a lot of persons with disabilities still have to live to their full potential, despite the CRPD. Because of systemic discrimination against people with disabilities, endless bureaucracy to get necessary support and aids, the accumulation of health care costs that causes poverty and lacking accessibility of our societies. People with disabilities live in a world where apartheid still flourishes.
The essential thing lacking is self-determination. Persons with disabilities are being made handicapped, while the actual disability often isn’t that big an issue. The solution is as elegant as it is simple: Talk with us, instead of about us!
Be an ally
International Day of Persons with Disabilities is a good day to ask yourself: How can I be an ally? What can I do to make life for people with disabilities (a bit) better?
You can make this as small of as big as you like: Have a real chat with a person with a disability you know or who you meet when you do your shopping. Or join a (disabled led) organisation that advocates for better lives for persons with disabilities.
And always very important: Speak up! By sharing this post on your social media, or by making your personal statement.