Release Date: 03 December 2019
To: Editors, Producers and Reporters
The 3rd December 2019 marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). On this occasion the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) will stand together with millions of people with all forms of disabilities in South Africa, across the continent and worldwide to embrace our common humanity in commemorating this day. The theme for this year is “The future is accessible” and accordingly, the Commission recognises the inherent qualities of humanity in all persons with disabilities such as equality, freedom of movement, justice, peace and the pursuit of happiness for self and within our families and communities.
The International Day of People with Disabilities could not be a more appropriate day to challenge us as a nation to demonstrate our commitments to the democratic values and fundamental human rights. The Commission for Gender Equality therefore, calls upon fellow South Africans to respect people with disabilities, include them at all levels our communities and promote inclusion in the economic, social, educational, religious or leisure activities.
The Commission’s employment equity public investigative hearings on both private and public sectors have identified that both sectors are lagging behind in achieving the required 2% recognised in the South African legal framework that affirms people with disabilities. Women with disabilities are further marginalized. Persons with disabilities bear the brunt of intimate partner violence, sexual assault and financial abuse and many are unable to report or access services due to their vulnerabilities. We must improve the infrastructure so that cities are inclusive and accessible to all including persons with disabilities. Further improvement is required in data collection
and compilation of the statistics to include persons with invisible disabilities in our society.
The Commission therefore, calls upon all state institutions including government and government agencies (particularly the schools, law enforcement agencies such as the courts and the police), the private sector (especially employers and trades unions), civil society, leadership in our community structures, political parties and churches to integrate, promote and protect the rights of people with disabilities through plans, activities and budgets, not as an after-thought but as an integral part of the mainstream agenda.
Let us use this occasion of the International Day of People with Disabilities to commit and resource solutions to build a better, more caring and compassionate society as we begin the third decade of South Africa’s democracy since its birth in 1994.