PRESS RELEASE: HUMAN RIGHTS DAY AND WORLD DOWN SYNDROME AWARENESS DAY 2017
PROTECTING THE RIGHT OF PERSONS WITH DOWN SYNDROME AND OTHER INTELLECTUAL DISABILITIES TO ACCESS EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
On the 21st of March South Africa celebrates Human Rights Day, and worldwide Down syndrome Awareness Day is also commemorated on the same day. This year the South African Federation for Mental Health is focusing on the right that persons with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities have to access equal employment opportunities.
There are a number of specific laws in South Africa that are relevant to the right to employment, and these include:
The South African Constitution’s Bill of Rights that specifically prohibits:
- inequality and unfair discrimination
The Employment Equity Act which says that:
- employers must remove unfair discrimination from all their policies and practices
- and that there must be a diverse workforce broadly representative of our persons (including persons with disabilities)
The Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act which prohibits:
- denying a person with a disability to access services and life opportunities
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which states in Article 27 that:
- persons with intellectual disabilities have the right to employment and self-employment opportunities
Based on these legal frameworks, any attempt to deny a person with Down syndrome or other intellectual disability from accessing employment opportunities on an equal basis is a human rights violation.
It is time that our society does away with outdated and stigmatising thinking which believes that persons with intellectual disabilities are unable to contribute or play a meaningful role in their communities. With the right support and training there are people with Down syndrome who would be able to find employment or create opportunities for themselves.
People with Down syndrome should be empowered and assisted to share their skills, insights, and abilities, and to reach a degree of personal independence. On Human Rights Day SAFMH would like to call for all sectors of society including Government, the NGO sector and the private sector, to support persons with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities and to ensure that they are afforded the same opportunities as other members of our society and thus actively contribute towards the preservation of their human rights.
FOR INQUIRIES INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
Programme Manager: Information & Awareness
SA Federation for Mental Health