National Disability Rights Awareness Month 2021
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed on 3 December; however, we commemorate National Disability Rights Awareness Month between 3 November and 3 December in South Africa. The SA government outlined a month-long campaign centred around weekly sub-themes designed to raise awareness for people living with disabilities.
These themes are reflected in the Medium-Term Strategic Framework of government, with the intent to “focus conversations on priority areas identified by the disability sector”.
The United Nations (UN) named the theme for this year's International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Building Back Better: Toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 World. The annual observance was proclaimed in 1992 by UN General Assembly resolution 47/3. It aims is 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.
"Disability inclusion is an essential condition to upholding human rights, sustainable development, and peace and security. It is also central to the promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to leave no one behind. The commitment to realizing the rights of persons with disabilities is not only a matter of justice; it is an investment in a common future," writes the UN.
The UN further elicits that the global crisis of COVID-19 is deepening pre-existing inequalities, exposing the extent of exclusion and highlighting that work on disability inclusion is imperative. "People with disabilities—one billion people—are one of the most excluded groups in our society and are among the hardest hit in this crisis in terms of fatalities."
Several individuals living with disabilities still face stigma on a daily basis. The goal of National Disability Rights Awareness Month focuses on removing barriers to improve the quality of life of people living with disabilities.
“Disability is the consequence of an impairment that may be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental, or some combination of these. A disability may be present from birth, or occur during a person’s lifetime”.