On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we come together to recognise and reaffirm the rights, dignity, and well-being of persons with disabilities. This year’s theme, “United in action to rescue and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for, with and by persons with disabilities,” emphasises the critical role that inclusivity plays in the global mission of sustainable development.
Priska Fleischlin, IFSW United Nations Commissioner, commented: “Today marks a pivotal moment to acknowledge the invaluable contributions of persons with disabilities in our societies. As we strive towards achieving the SDGs, it is imperative that we include persons with disabilities in all facets of social, economic, and political life. Social work, with its commitment to social justice and empowerment, plays a crucial role in facilitating this inclusion. We must work collaboratively to dismantle barriers and create a world where everyone, regardless of ability, can participate fully and equally“.
Pascal Rudin, IFSW Acting CEO and Representative to the United Nations, added: “The observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities is more than a symbolic gesture; it is a call to action. As social workers, we are uniquely positioned to advocate for and with persons with disabilities, ensuring that their voices are heard, and their rights are upheld. Our profession’s holistic approach is essential in addressing the multifaceted challenges faced by persons with disabilities. We must intensify our efforts to ensure that no one is left behind as we work towards a more inclusive and sustainable future.”
Wilaiporn (Kae) Kotbungkair, IFSW Representative to the United Nations, further commented: “It is imperative for social workers to prioritize diversity and inclusion, thereby ensuring the full respect of people with disabilities. Social workers play a pivotal role in empowering individuals with disabilities and their families, enabling them to effectively advocate for their needs, rights, and concerns. Furthermore, social workers must engage in collaborative efforts with allied professionals, organizations, and stakeholders to address institutional structures that perpetuate discrimination against individuals with disabilities. This concerted effort holds the potential to bring about the development and implementation of inclusive policies, practices, and strategies”.
Together, these statements underscore the integral role of social work in advancing the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities, particularly in the context of achieving the SDGs. Social workers, through their advocacy, support, and commitment to social justice, are vital in ensuring that the voices and needs of persons with disabilities are included and prioritised in all efforts towards sustainable development.
In the pursuit of building a new eco-social world, the inclusion of people with disabilities is not just important; it is essential. Their unique perspectives and experiences bring invaluable insights into how we can co-create societies that are truly inclusive and sustainable. This approach aligns with the principles outlined in the People’s Charter, which emphasises the need for diverse voices and collaborative action in shaping a world that respects and upholds the dignity and rights of all individuals.
By actively involving people with disabilities in the dialogue and decision-making processes, we can ensure that the eco-social world we aspire to is one that genuinely reflects and accommodates the needs and aspirations of every member of our global community. Their participation is key to developing strategies and solutions that are not only equitable but also resonate with their lived experiences.