Secretary-General's Message on World Down Syndrome Day (21 March 2016)

            By adopting the ambitious and universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the international community has promised to leave no one behind. This requires empowering children and adults with disabilities, including those with Down syndrome, to contribute to our common future.

            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 – and their voices must be heard as we strive to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.

            Toward that end, I recall the words of Pablo Pineda, the actor and writer with Down syndrome. He has called on others with Down syndrome to perceive their own vast capabilities, saying, “They should see themselves as people who can achieve their goals.”

            I would add that others in society should similarly appreciate the potential and power of the members of our human family with Down syndrome.

            This affirmation should be backed by concrete steps to respect, protect and promote the rights of all persons with disabilities, including those with Down syndrome. I especially call for priority actions to improve opportunities for girls and women with disabilities who often face greater exclusion than boys and men.

            On this World Down Syndrome Day, let us resolve to support the autonomy and independence of persons with Down syndrome, including their freedom to make choices, as part of our broader efforts to usher in a life of dignity for all.