Sightsavers urges UK Government to ‘put people with disabilities in the picture’

sightsavers_logoInternational organisation launches new campaign calling on UK Government to include people with disabilities in international development policy

Sightsavers is today launching the Put Us in the Picture campaign, the organisation’s first campaign to influence the UK Government.

The 18-month campaign, which is launched on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 December), will call on the UK Government and political parties to include the world’s one billion people with disabilities in their international development policies.

People with disabilities have the same needs and rights to health, education and employment as everyone else, yet they are one of the most excluded and vulnerable of all groups in society, particularly in the poorest countries in the world. As a result, many are being left behind. For example, despite overall increases in school-attendance globally, living with a disability more than doubles the chances of children never enrolling in school in some countries.

The potential for people with disabilities worldwide to contribute to global economic, political and social development is being missed, because their specific needs and voices are not being taken into account.

Sightsavers’ Put Us in the Picture campaign is asking the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) to develop a strategy to ensure people with disabilities are put in the picture of its efforts to tackle global poverty.

Launching the campaign, Sightsavers’ Chief Executive Caroline Harper said:

“The world’s one billion people with disabilities, 80% of whom live in developing countries, have just as much right to benefit from the UK’s global development programmes as everyone else. There is countless evidence – much of which I’ve seen first-hand – of the shocking link between disability and global poverty, and it’s clear that people with disabilities are being left behind.

“Over the next 18 months, Sightsavers’ Put Us in the Picture campaign will be calling on the UK Government and political parties to reverse this trend. We hope that by taking a strategic approach to disability and development, and putting people with disabilities firmly in the picture of its efforts to tackle global poverty, the Government will radically change the lives of people in the poorest countries. The UK must set an example. There are a billion people depending on us, and we cannot let them down.”

The campaign is being launched on 3 December at a breakfast briefing in Westminster, attended by representatives from all three main UK political parties, along with policymakers, academics, development experts, and disability charity chiefs.

The event will also see the publication of a new Sightsavers report, Put Us in the Picture: Making disability-inclusive development a reality. The report reveals the links between disability and poverty, and details concrete actions for the UK Government, specifically that it must:

  1. Make sure people with disabilities participate in, and benefit from, all international development programmes
  2. Talk, listen to and work with people with disabilities and their families
  3. Train DFID staff so they have the right skills to include people with disabilities in their work and support disabled people’s organisations to hold DFID to account.

The Put Us in the Picture campaign is expected to run between December 2013 and the UK general election in May 2015. Over the coming months, Sightsavers will be appealing to activists to support the campaign, through signing petitions, contacting their local MP, and taking part on social media (#InThePicture). For more information and to sign-up visit: www.sightsavers.org.uk/our_campaign.

Sightsavers is a registered UK charity that works in more than 30 developing countries to prevent blindness, restore sight and advocate for social inclusion and equal rights for people who are blind and visually impaired.  www.sightsavers.org

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