‘Put disabled people at heart of international development’, campaigners urge PM

Hannah Wanja Maina

Leading disability charities are calling on the Prime Minister to put disabled people at the heart of international development. Currently, the one billion disabled people worldwide are not effectively included within the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Prime Minister David Cameron will be chairing an international summit inLondonthis Thursday (1 November). A ‘High Level Panel of Eminent Persons’ will provide recommendations about what should replace the current Millennium Development Goals, a set of targets to reduce global poverty and improve living standards that run up until 2015.

Many disabled people across the world are currently excluded from society and at a far greater risk of being trapped in extreme poverty. Half of disabled people are out of work and of the 61 million children now out of school worldwide, one third have disabilities.

But if disability is specifically included in the new post-2015 framework national governments will be obliged to improve access to education, employment, healthcare and social support for disabled people.

The Bond Disability and Development Group (DDG) brings together UK-based international development and disability organisations to ensure that disabled people’s concerns are addressed at the highest level. Tim Wainwright, Chief Executive of ADDInternationaland co-chair of the DDG, said: “We are delighted that two disabled people are taking part in a number of roundtable discussions at the event.

“There is currently not a clear enough focus on disabled people within international efforts to tackle poverty. This means that they miss out on having an education, a job, and an equal chance for full participation in society – things that most of us take for granted. Disabled people must be included in the post-2015 framework targets so they have the same opportunities in life. Ultimately, extreme poverty cannot be eradicated without including people with disabilities in international development policies”

A small group of people representing civil society from across the world have also been selected to take part in a number of roundtable discussions with members of the high level panel following the summit. They include two disabled panelists:

Andrew K Dube, from South Africa, the Chief Executive Officer of the Secretariat of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities says: “I am delighted to be part of the event and feel it is important for people with disabilities to give leadership guidance on the new framework and highlight the importance of equal opportunities.

“Action must be taken to ensure disability is mainstreamed across all areas of the post-2015 framework. This will make it easier for us to monitor the implementation and ensure it is done correctly. Failure to do so will exclude 15% of the population and make targets unachievable.”

Twenty-one year old Hannah Wanja Maina fromKenyais part of Young Voices, a Leonard Cheshire Disability programme that brings together campaigners from 20 countries around the world. She says:  “Disabled people experience discrimination on a daily basis and this must change. I will be sharing my own experiences from working as a campaigner for the rights of persons with disabilities and feel very humbled to be part of this event.”

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