World Down Syndrome Day 2023

World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) is a global awareness day recognized since 2012 by the UN, which takes place on 21 March every year. On WDSD people with Down syndrome, their families, friends and advocates, work to raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome, and how persons with Down syndrome play a vital role in lives and communities.

WDSD 2023 focus on the message: With Us Not For Us

With Us Not For Us is a human rights-based approach to disability. Down syndrome International and all its members are committed to moving on from the outdated charity model of disability, where people with disability were treated as objects of charity, deserving of pity and relying on others for support. Our approach now views people with disabilities as having the right to be treated fairly and have the same opportunities as everyone else, working With others to improve their lives.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities calls for everyone to have the freedom to make their own choices. But people with Down syndrome often have poor or controlling support. Often their supporters do things For them, not With them. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities calls for full and effective participation of persons with disabilities. But many organizations exclude people with Down syndrome from taking part in their work. They take decisions For them not With them.

Our global network calls:

  • for all supporters to be With Us Not For Us.
  • for all organizations to include people with Down syndrome and being With Us Not For Us.
  • for all decision makers to commit to involve organizations representing people with Down syndrome in all decisions, and work With Us Not For Us.

Down Syndrome International and its members are Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs). This means we represent and work With people with Down syndrome, not just For them.

In this context, legal capacity is a main issue. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) says that people with disabilities have the right to: “Enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others in all aspects of life” and should have access to “the support they may require in exercising their legal capacity.”

Legal capacity means that the law recognizes you as a person with rights. It means that everyone can make decisions about important things in their lives. But many people with Down syndrome around the world are denied legal capacity. Legal arrangements like guardianship stop people from making their own decisions. Or people don’t have proper support to make decisions for themselves. Governments must make sure that people with Down syndrome can make decisions about their lives with appropriate support.

Poster campaign on the EDSA website

The focus of the 2023 EDSA campaign ”With Us Not For Us“ is to show how people with Down syndrome are involved in the work of their associations. Where and how do they play a role in decision making bodies. Not only in DS organizations, but also in other contexts where decisions are made that affect their lives. How do they play a role in city councils, in political parties, in boards of institutions or clubs etc. Do they have the right to vote?

From 1st to 21st March 2023 we show good examples from all over Europe!