The autonomy and independence of people with Down syndrome and other disabilities should be supported, so that they can be empowered to contribute to our common future, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said marking World Down Syndrome Day.
“Persons with disabilities, including those with Down syndrome, are more than persons in need of assistance; they are agents of change who can drive progress across society,” Mr. Ban said in his message for the Day, which is observed annually on 21 March.
This year's theme is “My Friends, My Community” – the benefits of inclusive environments for today's children and tomorrow's adults.
In his message, Mr. Ban recalled the words of actors and writer Pablo Pineda, who has Down syndrome, calling on others with Down syndrome, “They should see themselves as people who can achieve their goals.”
Mr. Ban also urged other in society to appreciate “the potential and power of the members of our human family with Down syndrome.”
He called for this affirmation to be backed by concrete steps to respect, protect and promote the rights of all persons with disabilities.
“I especially call for priority actions to improve opportunities for girls and women with disabilities who often face greater exclusion than boys and men,” Mr. Ban said.
He underscored that the voiced of children and adults with Down syndrome is particularly vital as the international community works towards achieving the new anti-poverty Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aim to leave no one behind.