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International Day of Disabled Persons - This year's IDDP focuses on the right of persons with disabilities to have a decent work, on an equal basis with others.

Press release | 26 November 2007

GENEVA (ILO News) – The International Labour Office (ILO) and countries around the world are to mark the International Day of Disabled Persons (IDDP) on Monday 3 December with a series of events designed to focus new attention on how to ensure decent work for persons with disabilities and tap their abilities and talents.

The events will also expose the barriers preventing persons with disabilities from fully participating in the labour market and highlight efforts being taken by governments, worker and employer organizations and other actors to overcome them.

A special event at the ILO in Geneva on 3 December will include a video statement by an Academy Award winning American actress and presentations by an African social activist and a former member of the Swiss Parliament and leading advocate for people with disabilities on how they overcame barriers in their professions and livelihoods to full and productive work.

At the same time, the ILO will also launch a new report on progress to date in promoting equal opportunities for disabled persons in the world of work, entitled The Right to Decent Work of Persons with Disabilities.

The report, prepared for the ILO by Dr. Arthur O’Reilly, former Chief Executive of the National Rehabilitation Board and National Disability Authority in Ireland, examines laws, policies and initiatives undertaken internationally and at national level, to encourage the recruitment and retention of disabled workers. It provides an overview of the employment options open to disabled persons in labour markets worldwide, and refers to data on their participation and unemployment rates in several countries. It also highlights the challenges people with disabilities face in the world of work, and proposes an agenda for action, so that the international and national laws can be effectively implemented. The report is being translated into over 10 languages.

Media: The new ILO study, along with press material including an executive summary, video news release and press release, will be available to the media as of Friday 30 November, and is embargoed for publication on or after 2300 GMT on Sunday 2 December. The report author, Dr. Arthur O’Reilly, and Ms. Barbara Murray, Senior Disability Specialist at the ILO, will be available to respond to media queries at a press briefing in Geneva on Friday 30 November, 11:30 Palais des Nations, Room III.

Background on ILO Events

On 3 December, the ILO will host a public panel discussion on “Decent Work for Persons with Disabilities” from 11:00 to 13:00 in Room II of the ILO building. The Day’s event will be moderated by Ms. Patricia O’Donovan, Executive Director of the Management and Administration Sector/ILO, with a panel presentation involving:

  • Mr. Marc F. Suter (Switzerland), lawyer and advocate for persons with disabilities. Former member of the Swiss Federal Parliament, Mr. Suter is currently President of Integration Handicap in Zurich and serves as a Council Member of “Fondation Battenberg” in Bienne. He received the “Paraplegic of the Year Award” in 1998.
  • Ms. Marlee Matlin (American), Academy Award winning actress. Ms. Matlin won the distinction for Best Actress in her 1986 film debut “Children of a Lesser God”. She is also an author of three children’s books, including “Deaf Child Crossing” and most recently “Leading Ladies”. A video message by Ms. Matlin will be aired on the Day.
  • Mr. Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah (Ghana), disabled athlete and disability advocate. Mr. Ofosu Yeboah serves as an athlete ambassador to Right to Play International, and is Founder of the Emmanuel Education Fund in Ghana.
  • Ms. Ellen Hansen, Senior Employment Services Specialist in the ILO. Ms. Hansen has been a major contributor to ILO publications on career guidance, labour market information systems, and the regulation of private employment agencies.
  • Dr. Arthur O’Reilly (Ireland), author of The Right to Decent Work of Persons with Disabilities. Dr. O’Reilly is past President of Rehabilitation International and a former Chairman of CEDEFOP, the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training. He has also worked as a consultant to the European Commission, OECD, UNIDO and the ILO.

The media is cordially invited to cover the panel discussion at the ILO. For more information, or to request interviews, please contact the ILO Department of Communication at +4122/799-7912 - or Laetitia Dard at +4122/799-8272, For broadcasting queries or video coverage please contact Karen Naets-Sekiguchi at +4122/799-7935,

A photo exhibition featuring persons with disabilities at work will also be on display at the ILO headquarters in Geneva.

Around the world, numerous events, discussions and other activities are planned to mark the day and raise awareness of the International Day of Disabled Persons, including a photo competition under the theme “Decent Work for Persons with Disabilities” in the Asia-Pacific Region, a Photo Exhibit in addition to other outreach activities in Zambia, and a regional workshop on the role of media in promoting the rights of persons with disabilities for decent work in Jordan.

For more information on International Day of Disabled Persons, or documents, publications, videos on disability in the world of work, please visit: /global//lang--en/WCMS_087695/index.htm or contact Jeannette Sanchez at +4122/799-8642, guest

3 December is observed annually as the United Nations International Day of Disabled Persons (IDDP) since 1992. It provides opportunities for Governments, organizations of disabled persons and society as a whole to focus upon and take stock of the gains to be made from the inclusion of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.