International Day of Persons With Disabilities

Every year since 1992, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) has been annually observed around the world on December 3. As an UN-recognised day, it seeks to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life. It further emphasizes understanding and accepting people with disabilities and celebrating their achievements and contributions

International days and weeks are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, mobilize political will and resources to address global problems and celebrate and reinforce the achievements of humanity. Securing the rights of persons with disabilities brings societies closer and thereby the world, further upholding the fundamental values and core principles of the United Nations.  

Why is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities important?

The event is important from the perspective of the UPSC civil service examination on many fronts. Keeping in view the importance of such a crucial international event, we shall be discussing various aspects of the International Day of Persons With Disabilities.

The Disability is referenced in various parts of the SDGs and specifically in parts related to education, growth and employment, inequality, accessibility of human settlements, as well as data collection and monitoring of the SDGs.

Further, this article covers other important aspects, keeping in mind the demands of the preliminary as well as the Main Examination of the IAS Exam. 

What is the history associated with the day?

  • In 1976, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 1981 as the International Year of Disabled Persons. 
  • It called for a plan of action at the national, regional and international levels, with an emphasis on equalisation of opportunities, rehabilitation and prevention of disabilities.
  • The theme was ‘full participation and equality. 
  • It promoted the right of Persons with Disabilities(PwDs) to take part fully in the life and development of their societies, enjoy living conditions equal to those of other citizens, and have an equal share in improved conditions resulting from socio-economic development.

What is the significance of this event?

  • The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed by United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3.
  • Today, the world population is over 7 billion people and more than one billion people, or approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population, live with some form of disability;
  • Close to 80 per cent of the global population of persons with disabilities live in developing countries.
  • According to the Census of India 2011, there are 26.8 million people with disabilities (PwDs) in India who constitute 2.21 per cent of the total population.
  • There is a need for achieving sustainable and transformative progress on disability inclusion through peace and security, human rights, and development.
  • It reaffirms the commitment of the United Nations to work with people with disabilities to build a sustainable, inclusive and transformative future in which everyone, including women, men, girls and boys with disabilities, can realise their potential.

Theme of International Day of Persons with Disabilities

  • The theme for the year 2021 is – Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.

Some other important themes, crucial from examination sell as essay point of view are:

  • Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 World.
  • Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda. 
  • Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality
  • Transformation towards a sustainable and resilient society for all.

In general, the focus of the themes is on empowering persons with disabilities for the inclusive, equitable and sustainable development envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

What are the commemorative events marking the celebration for the day?

Shaping an Inclusive Future for All: Leading with Determination 

  • To explore the opportunities and challenges to shape an inclusive future for persons with disabilities. 
  • Showcase how the international community’s embrace of persons with disabilities will speed efforts to meet specific Sustainable Development Goals.
  •  Explore key issues to improve the lives of people with disabilities through accessibility, education, decent work, innovation/technology, and sport.

Reducing Inequalities Through Technologies: A Perspective on Disability Inclusive Development

  •  Co-organised by United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). 
  • The event aims at increasing awareness of the importance of supporting innovation ecosystems to spur the development of new and improved assistive technologies.
  • Promote understanding of the workings of the assistive technologies industry 
  • Share insights on the landscape and global trends in this cluster of technologies as a complement to universal design 
  • It highlights the initiatives by members of the UN family to support informed discussions relating to the realization of the objectives of the CRPD and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

The leadership of the new generations: Children and adolescents with disabilities and their voices post COVID-19

  • It was organized by the Office of the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General on Disability and Accessibility.
  • Looks to leverage the positive changes resulting from the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • Seeks to promote an unprecedented space for the effective participation of children and adolescents with disabilities,
  • It promotes the strong leadership of the new generations for the implementation of the Convention and the fulfilment of the 2030 agenda on sustainable development in such important areas as inclusive quality education and universal accessibility. 

Building an Inclusive and Accessible Post-COVID-19 World: Leadership of Persons with Disabilities

  • The event was led by persons with disabilities and civil society, supported by UNITAR, UN-Women, Global Forum on the Leadership of Women and Girls with Disabilities and various other stakeholders of the UN program.
  • The panel discussion included expert participants from around the world, including those with expertise and experience in various domains.
  • Experts from these fields such as disability and development, gender equality, diversity and inclusion, humanitarian emergencies and the leadership of disadvantaged groups at the local, national and global levels take part in the program.

What is the United Nations disability inclusion strategy?

  • It believes that the United Nations should lead by example and raise the Organization’s standards and performance on disability inclusion, across all fronts of its work.
  • It provides the foundation for sustainable and transformative progress on disability inclusion through all pillars of the work of the United Nations.
  • Through the Strategy, the United Nations system reaffirms that the complete realization of the human rights of all persons with disabilities is an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
  • Seeks to ensure equitable and sustainable development as envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to mainstream disability inclusion, leaving no one behind.
  • It recognises disability as a cross-cutting issue as part of the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

What is the status of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)in India?

  • Building on many decades of UN’s work in the field of disability, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), adopted in 2006, has further advanced the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • It confers to the priorities of inclusion mandated in international development frameworks, such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Charter on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action, the New Urban Agenda, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development.
  • Under the Convention, disability is an evolving concept that results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
  • India signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and subsequently ratified the same on October 1, 2007. 
  • The Government of India initially undertook the amendment of laws such as the Persons with Disability Act, 1995.
  • The Rights of PWD Act, 2016 (RPWD Act) replaced the PWD Act 1995 to comply with the UNCRPD. 
  • This was formulated keeping in mind the socio-cultural and local needs of the society, and the available resources.


The International Day of Persons with Disabilities celebrates the spirit, and inspires confidence among the Divyangs, celebrating the immense strength that underlines their achievements and journey. Further, the journey of individuals is replete with challenges at all levels- social, intellectual, behavioural and infrastructural. 

With the provisions of the  RPD Act being in force, India now has a robust framework to protect and ensure various rights of persons with disabilities, overcoming the barriers to access to infrastructure.

Yet, there remains a lot more to be done, so do other things, to be achieved. The need of the hour is to put in place governance and oversight mechanisms and enforcement of the mandates of the UNCRPD and the RPD Act. Further, the conversations around disability transforming into Divyangs or differently-abled, should gain more credence in times ahead, and get mainstreamed.

This article is relevant for the sections of the Current Affairs part of the UPSC Syllabus prescribed for the Preliminary and Main Stages of Civil Services Exam.

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