Side event to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Summary Document

Produced by Down Syndrome International

Click on the banner above to watch a short video about the event.

Thank you

Firstly, we would like to say thank you to:

  • All the amazing self-advocates that presented at the event and the people that came to support them.
  • The Permanent Missions of Brazil, Israel, Australia and the UK, and the International Labour Organization for sponsoring the event and all their support with the logistics.
  • The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the International Disability Alliance for supporting the event.
  • Robert Martin and other Committee members for their support for the event.


About World Down Syndrome Day

World Down Syndrome Day is a global awareness day officially recognised by the UN since 2012, which takes place on 21 March every year. 21 March, or 21:3, signifies the triplication of chromosome 21, unique to persons with Down syndrome.


Summary of the event

This was a side event to the 21st Session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, held at the Palais des Nations (the home of the UN in Geneva).

The event was intended to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day and to give self-advocates with Down syndrome a chance to speak up about their rights to employment.

The event was attended by Committee members, country delegates, representatives from civil society and international organisation including the International Labour Organization. It featured speakers with Down syndrome from Switzerland, Indonesia, Spain, and the UK, as well as presentations from Ambassador Maria Luisa Escorel de Moraes of Brazil, Committee member Robert Martin and Jürgen Menze of the Interntational Labour Organization.

Key messages: People with Down syndrome want to work and make good employees


The Aura Foundation proposed a job for me in a very major company in Spain.  I've been working for them for 15 years and that's why they gave me this medal - Rafael Gomez Martin

I am a very good worker and I'm proud of myself - Iria Giunta

I would like to work in a restaurant one day - Morgan Maze

A recurring message from self-advocates with Down syndrome was that they want to work. Those with jobs all enjoyed working and were successful in their jobs.

People with Down syndrome make excellent employees in a variety of roles and industries. Studies and employer testimonies show that they have low absenteeism rates, commit to roles for long periods of time, and are enthusiastic team members.

Key messages: People with Down syndrome have a right to access meaningful employment

I just have an extra chromosome and I have a right to a good job - Pearl Luthy

I could get unpaid jobs, but it’s not fair. Would you work for nothing? - Kate Grant

It also allows everyone with and without disabilities to expand their own horizons - Andreas Rubin

Self-advocates spoke strongly about their right to work and to have a decent job with fair working conditions.

Employment rates of people with Down syndrome are low and often people with Down syndrome are offered unpaid or low wage jobs. Once in work they often experience bad working conditions.