Posted on December 2nd, 2011
Our petition, signed by 23,987 people from 143 countries, calling on employers and decision makers to protect the rights of people with MS in finding and staying in work, has been delivered to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.
Many thanks to the more than 23,900 people who signed our petition, which called on employers and decision makers to improve the lives of people with MS on the International Day for Persons with Disabilities.
The petition, which was launched by MSIF and its member organisations worldwide as part of the World MS Day campaign, was delivered to Ms. Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, on 2 December 2011, the eve of the fifth anniversary of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities.
Ms. Pillay highlighted the “unacceptable obstacles” that in all parts of the world, persons with MS, and persons with disabilities in general, encounter in the field of employment, including conditions of recruitment, hiring and employment, continuance of employment, career advancement and safe and healthy working conditions.
“The vast majority of UN Member States have recognised the importance of respecting the rights of men, women and children with disabilities to the same quality of life as others,” she said. “They must now urgently set about making the promise of the Convention a reality, including by recognising that persons with disabilities have the right to work in an environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities”.
The Office of the HC for Human Rights leads the global human rights effort and speaks out objectively in the face of human rights violations around the world. Employment has been identified as a fundamental right, both in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006).
Peer Baneke, CEO of MSIF, who was in Geneva to present the petition to Ms. Pillay, said
“People with MS and other disabilities have the right to work. Those rights are outlined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and backed up by legislation in many countries. Our appeal to companies and governments is to make those rights real. We hope that the support of the High Commissioner will highlight the importance of this issue and enable us to move closer to more equitable practices for people with MS.”
An MSIF global survey of people with MS in 2009-2010 found that of people who had left work because of MS, 47% had left within three years of diagnosis. It also found that flexible working hours and a place to rest were important adaptations that would have enabled many to stay in work. However, in this year’s follow-up survey of companies, nearly 50% of those surveyed said flexible working was not available in their workplaces. In addition, 70% of survey respondents indicated that they had no quiet place where people with MS, who frequently suffer from fatigue, could rest before resuming their duties.
MSIF is calling on all employers to pledge to make at least one significant change that would enable people with MS and other disabilities to stay in employment.