On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I join with friends and colleagues around the world to recognize December 3 as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Advancing opportunities and promoting the rights of disabled people has been a lifelong commitment, and I am honored to continue advocating on behalf of people with disabilities on the international stage.
The United States is proud to be a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and we look forward to continuing our efforts to support its full and effective implementation. We are also invested in including disability rights as a core focus of our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. This global undertaking to eradicate extreme poverty and inequality offers hope to millions of people across the developing world, but much remains to be done for people with disabilities, particularly disabled women and girls. We cannot hope to achieve the Millennium Development Goals when those with disabilities are denied the opportunity to lead empowered and autonomous lives by violence or the fear of violence. Disabled people deserve equal access and opportunity within society.
In honor of this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the State Department is hosting events focused on the issues of HIV/AIDS and disability, and violence against women and girls with disabilities. These events will bring together experts with experience in disability rights, civil society, and government to help raise awareness and understanding of how to tackle these challenging issues. Our Special Advisor for International Disability Rights Judith Heumann is leading efforts at the United States Department of State to ensure disability inclusion and non-discrimination are central to all of our policies and practices, in Washington and around the globe. Together, we can help 650 million people living with disabilities today enjoy their full human rights, and achieve the vision of equality and inclusion set forth in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.