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Human rights must be key as we rebuild post-pandemic

This opinion piece is over 3 years old

Michael McEwan on what Human Rights Day means to disabled people

10 December is Human Rights Day – and while we may feel that our rights are limited during this seemingly endless pandemic, it should still be celebrated.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights holds the Guinness World Record as the most translated document, yet far too many people are  unaware of their basic rights.

It empowers us all and the principles enshrined in the declaration are as relevant today as they were in 1948. These include freedom of movement, of expression, of ownership, of gender equality.

The declaration turned 70 years in 2018, and for many people with a disability in UK these rights are often overlooked. Many people feel they are unable to participate fully in society because of barriers that prevent them from realising all of their rights. 

Barriers can take many forms - physical barriers like buildings without wheelchair access, financial barriers like not having enough income to meet the cost of work support or care and cultural barriers like stigma or abuse due of disability.

I'm the current chair of my local disability action group and we've campaigned for six years to get accessible taxis to cover the area. We succeeded and continue to monitor their introduction, ensuring that basic human right of people with a disability to go out and about. 

The theme of this year's Human Rights Day is Recover Better - Stand Up for Human Rights.

We must make sure rights are enshrined as we re-build post-pandemic.

As someone born with a disability, I campaign on many rights issues, appreciating how every day life defines the struggle for basic human rights. 

As the world reboots, we need to use this time well to redefine and recapture our rights, whether here in Scotland or further afield.

Michael McEwan is a freelance journalist and disability campaigner.