International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2021

Shewly smiles from her wheelchair in a garden setting in rural Bangladesh

Shewly has a mobility impairment and lives in a rural Bangladesh village. She had dreamed of going to school, but was unable to leave her home for 28 years because of a range of barriers in her community. That was until Water for Women partner World Vision Bangladesh met Shewly through the SHOMOTA project and helped her to access a wheelchair and join a self-help group. Within a few months, Shewly was helping other people with disabilities to get involved in their communities and hasn't looked back. (photo: World Vision Bangladesh)

Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world

Friday, 3 December is the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. It has been an annual UN Observance since 1992 and aims to promote the rights, dignity and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

This year's theme is, "Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world." 

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated disadvantages already experienced by persons with disabilities, who have been among those hardest hit by the virus. 

People with disabilities represent 15 percent of the global population, yet in many parts of the world, still lack access to disability-inclusive facilities and services.

Of the one billion people in the world with a disability, including up to 10 percent of the world’s children, approximately 80 percent live in developing countries. More than 110 million persons with disabilities may be at risk of having poor access to vitally important water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities (UNICEF 2018).

Access to WASH facilities and services provide direct benefits to health, social inclusion and dignity, and is fundamental to achieve human rights and development goals. WASH delivery also offers a critical entry point to facilitate positive changes in social norms, attitudes and gender relations.

In Asian and Pacific communities, Water for Women partners are delivering disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable WASH services and programs, and strengthening the support systems required to ensure the benefits are lasting, socially equitable and help to build resilient communities.

Many of our partners are working with Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPD), or Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs), to ensure the voices of people with disabilities are part of the decision-making process in WASH programs, services and governance. 

So far, 26,575 people with disabilities have been directly benefitted through Water for Women projects, and we aim to support a further 44,319 people with disabilities by the end of December 2022.  

Today, and everyday, we celebrate the achievements and contributions of people with disabilities and support their leadership and participation toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.




Explore our Reals - a collection of videos from Water for Women partners that showcase real change, real benefits, and real equality, with people with disabilities at the centre, leading the way. That's why we call these, "Reals."


South Asia


The Wind of Change

World Vision, Bangladesh

Did you say dis(ability)?

The Centre for Advocacy and Research, India

 A documentary on unpacking water and sanitation realities

International Water Management Institute & SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, Nepal 

Need for inclusive WASH - Stories of persons with disabilities

International Water Management Institute, Nepal

Rajesh Sahani for inclusive COVID-19 and WASH responses that transform lives

SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, Nepal

Ambika Yadav for inclusive COVID-19 and WASH responses that transform lives

SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, Nepal


South East Asia


Inclusive water, sanitation and hygiene for tourism in Lombok, Indonesia

International WaterCentre & Plan International, Indonesia


Thrive Networks East Meets West, Vietnam




Shirley and her commode

World Vision, Vanuatu

World Toilet Day

World Vision, Vanuatu

Rainbow Disability Theatre

World Vision, Vanuatu, in partnership with Wan Smolbag Theatre  


Explore recent knowledge & learning resources and postcards


Happy International Day of Persons with Disabilities! #IDPwD 

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