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International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Today on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we recognize the over one billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, living with a disability.  Often, they face discrimination and human rights violations that limit access to education, employment, healthcare, and more.

The United Nations recognizes these problems globally, through Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The UN has proclaimed today to be an international day of awareness, encouraging communities to address the exclusion of disabled persons and recognition of the challenges they confront.

Many of MADRE’s programs support people living with disabilities in the communities of our sister organizations. In Haweeja, a community in Iraq, families are struggling to cope with increasing rates of children born with disabilities. For nearly eight years, US troops were present, reportedly dumping harmful munitions nearby.

This small community exemplifies the US legacy of war, one that will continue on to the next generation of Iraqis as children continue to be born with birth defects.  Today, we recognize the efforts of Iraqi families and that of our partners, the Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq, for their determination and work to help children live with disabilities, birth defects, cancer, and other health problems.

And tomorrow, the US Senate may finally ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, recognizing and lending new weight to this international treaty—a welcome development.