International Day of Persons with Disabilities December 3rd

1 in 7 people lives with some form of disability. That’s over 1 billion people worldwide.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPWD) was created in 1992 to raise awareness of the multiple social, economic and cultural issues facing persons with disabilities across the globe. The day also focuses on raising funds to support persons with disabilities to access healthcare, education and work opportunities.

Each year, the day focuses on a particular theme. In 2020, the theme was promoting a disability-inclusive post-pandemic world.

Visit the IDPWD to find out more about their vision for an accessible, disability-inclusive world as well as donate and get involved.

What are Disabilities?

The Government of Canada defines disability as an ‘umbrella term covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions.’

This definition encompasses a range of disabilities, including physical, intellectual, processing and sensory disabilities. It’s important to note that not all disabilities are visible.

How Many Women Globally Have a Disability?

10% of women worldwide have a disability. Globally, there are around 300 million women who have some form of disability.

In low- and middle-income countries, 75% of disabled persons are women. This figure is attributed, among other reasons, to the difficulty women experience in accessing preventative healthcare (e.g. vaccinations) and emergency medical care in these countries.

How Many Women in Canada Have a Disability?

Statistics Canada reports that, in 2017, 24% of women in Canada had some form of disability, compared to 20% of men in Canada. The highest reported disability type was pain-related and there were more severe disabilities reported among women than men.

What Gender Inequalities Do Women with Disabilities Experience?

The UN states that women and girls living with disabilities are twice as likely than men to experience discrimination. According to the Feminist Alliance for International Action Canada, this gender imbalance means more women with disabilities than men experience:

  • incarceration
  • poverty
  • sexual abuse
  • unemployment
  • violence

Disabilities are experienced differently and the gender inequality can be exacerbated for women and girls who have certain identities and/or backgrounds, for example LGBTIQ+ identity and/or status as a refugee.


How Can I Help Raise Awareness of Disabilities?

In addition to the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, there are many causes around the world working year-round to raise the profile and quality of life for persons with disabilities.

In Canada in particular, there are numerous charities working with and for persons with disabilities.  To find out more and get involved with any of their initiatives, please click on the links below.

Canada Helps

DAWN Canada
Disability Foundation

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

The Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons