Worldwide celebrations on World Disability Day

December 2017
A group of dancers some with walking sticks.

Around the world, people have been celebrating 3 December, the International Day of People with Disabilities.

Here’s a roundup of how Sightsavers marked the day: from conferences and meetings to films and concerts.

Sightsavers' Put Us in the Picture campaign launched its new campaign film on World Disability Day. [Audio described version.]


A celebration event was held in Dhaka, with the theme ‘Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all’. It featured representatives from the Ministry of Social Welfare and Department of Social Services and major disability organisations, and included a rally, discussion, awards ceremony and cultural performance. The event also kicked off a five-day disability fair hosted at the National Disability Development Foundation.


A fair was held in Namialo (near Nampula) which Sightsavers organised in partnership with disabled people’s organisations, the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare, and other non-governmental organisations. It included an eye screening, as well as cultural dancing and speeches.


The Ministry of Capital Administration and Development Division partnered with Sightsavers, the World Health Organization, Pakistan Blind Cricket Association and the Special Talent Exchange programme to hold a celebration event. The event was attended by more than 200 dignitaries, children and adults with disabilities, teachers and civil society representatives. The event was covered in national newspapers and online media.

Munazza Gilani, the Country Director of Sightsavers Pakistan, gave a speech at the event highlighting the need for:

  • A national disability survey for accurate statistics of disability and better planning
  • Approval of the Pakistan Disability Act (submitted by CBID Disability Network, of which Sightsavers is a founding member). This is currently awaiting approval of parliament and the prime minister.

The information minister responded to both these requests positively in her speech.


The president, Yoweri Museveni, attended the national celebrations where project participants from Connecting the Dots (Sightsavers’ economic empowerment programme, funded by the European Commission and the National Lottery Community Fund) were showing examples of the work they have made thanks to their training.


Sightsavers’ Put Us in the Picture campaign released a new short film explaining why it’s so important that people with disabilities are included in global development. The film has been shared widely on social media, including being retweeted by prominent disability advocates including musicians Amadou and Mariam, and Paralympic athletes Ben Quilter, Kelly Gallagher, Sarah Storey and Sophie Morgan.


An event was held to celebrate the day, with the motto ‘Zambia for all’. The guest of honour was the Minister of Community Development and Social Welfare – represented by the Permanent Secretary in the same ministry – and the UN Development Programme resident representative, Ms Skinner, also attended. Exhibitions were held by the drug enforcement commission, human rights commission, disabled people’s organisations and the private sector, and the event was broadcast live on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation 1 for the first time since the International Day of People with Disabilities was launched in Zambia.


An event was organised by the Ghana Federation of Disability Organisations. The President of the Federation and the Minister for Disability both attended the event, which was chaired by disability advocate and Sightsavers’ advocacy advisor Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame. In her opening speech, Gertrude highlighted the need for data to be disaggregated by disability and for the sustainable inclusion of people with disabilities in government, private sector, civil society and development agencies’ policies. There was also a float through the main streets of Accra to raise awareness of the need for inclusion.


In Bhopal, an eye screening for 94 hearing impaired children was held in Bhopal – one child was diagnosed with cataracts and 26 pairs of glasses were dispensed. A new self-defence course has started for visually impaired young women, who will train to become instructors.

In Hoshangabad district, an award of appreciation was given to self help groups that have are setting an example of how people with disabilities can earn a living and contribute to society. And in Jharkhand, Sightsavers (in association with Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society and the government of Jharkhand) held a special event involving 500 people with disabilities across several districts.


In partnership with the Federation of Disabled People’s Associations, Sightsavers signed two new partnership agreements): one with the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs and the Minister of Justice for a political participation project in Rufisque, Dakar region, and one between Sightsavers and Special Olympics Senegal targeting children with mental disabilities in sport and health. Sightsavers and the Special Olympics have been collaborating together for several years, supporting screening for people with intellectual disabilities, supporting design of inclusive programmes and joint advocacy, and the convention formalises this.


A national event was held on 7 December, featuring a range of speakers, including some ministers with disabilities. Josepheta Oyiela Mukobe, the Principal Secretary for the State Department of Special Programmes (and the most senior government official with a disability) gave a speech. Sign language interpreters were in attendance to make the event as accessible to all as possible.

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