World Autism Day - 2020
On the 2nd of April, every year, the world celebrates World Autism Day. Designated by the United Nations in 2007, this day aims to encourage Member States of the United Nations to take the necessary steps to raise awareness, end stigmatization and discrimination against those with autism, and utilmately improve the lives of those curently living with autism.
As it is a part of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, pledging to “leave no one behind”, the international community reaffirms its strong commitment to ensure a sustainable and inclusive development that is accessible to all. In this context, the participation of persons with autism, as actors and beneficiaries of sustainable development, becomes imperative.
Access to affordable assistive technologies is a prerequisite in enabling people with autism to exercise their basic human rights and fully participate in the social lives of their communities, thus achieving the goals of sustainable development by removing existing barriers that prevent equal participation. Unfortunately, there are still significant obstacles, such the high cost, lack of available technologies and the poor awareness of their potential. According to data collected, more than 50% of people with disabilities who need assistive devices in many developing countries can not gain access to it.
This year’s celebration takes place during a pandemic, unlike any other that we have seen. It must be stressed that this public health crisis places individuals with autism at a disproportionate risk. Based on the principles of self-determination, independence and autonomy, individuals with Autism have a right to education and employment as every other individual. However, with the current pandemic affecting various support systems, individuals are at risk of facing more obstacles in exercising their rights.
In light of that, the Geneva Institute for Human Rights takes this day as an opportunity to appeal to the international community, to exert all efforts to ensure the absence of all barriers to their full social, economic and political participation in society, and promote equality, equity and inclusion.Similarly, GIHR raises its concerns for individuals with disabilities, such as autism, being neglecting or deprived of their necessities in countries riddled with conflict, political turmoil or security disturbances, as it is the case in the Middle East and North Africa. In that regard, GIHR appeals to all countries to ensure the provision of special care, security, stability and appropriate education to ensure their physical, mental and psychological well being, and to ensure that universal human rights, including the rights of persons with disabilities, is not threatened.
In view of the current public health crisis, we must ensure an inclusive and accessible COVID-19 global response. Let us all stand strongly together, in solidarity with persons with Autism.