“We cannot achieve development goals if one billion disabled people are excluded”

  • Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Young Voices tell their stories at the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities
  • Major new report launched by young campaigners from around the world

Leonard Cheshire Disability logo“We cannot achieve the development goals if one billion disabled people are excluded,” Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Chief Executive, Clare Pelham, has told the UN.

At a UN event marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities Clare said: “Unless the disability community is fully included in crafting the post-2015 goals, there is every chance people with disabilities will be forgotten once and for all.

“I call upon the UN to be a role model for inclusion. Let us change the world to include people with disabilities.”

Clare’s words were backed up by the united message coming from a group of Leonard Cheshire Young Voices campaigners, all under 25 years old. The group featured in a video which was shown at the special event at the UN’s New York headquarters, with the theme “Break Barriers, Open Doors: for an inclusive society and development for all”.

The young people shared their thoughts on how disability can be included in the post-2015 development agenda. This is a crucial issue for them. The current Millennium Development Goals make no mention of disability, yet 80% of people with disabilities in developing countries still live below the poverty line.

Young Voices campaigner, Ishan Jalil from Sri Lanka says: “To put it simply, the post-2015 development agenda should and must have the component of disability in it. Let’s strive together to make the post 2015 development agenda a reality for all disabled persons. Respect us, don’t ignore us; include us don’t exclude us.”

Hannah Wanja Maina, a Young Voice from Kenya, says: “Poverty is a global issue. But households with people with disabilities tend to face higher chances of poverty. Disability should be a development issue and should be mainstreamed in the processes of every country.”

Young Voices is a campaigning initiative run by Leonard Cheshire Disability, which brings together groups of young disabled people from more than 20 countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas. They exist to make positive changes for disabled people around the world and are campaigning to play a part in decision-making in government.

The charity has also launched ‘Making Rights a Reality’, a new report which been put together by Young Voices from across the globe. The first of its kind, the publication reports on how governments are implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), together with the young people’s recommendations of what they think needs to change. The publication also features stories of how Young Voices are making a difference through their campaigns, including:

    • Making the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, accessible by installing ramps and lifts
    • Training members of parliament in Swaziland on the UNCRPD – which led to ratification of the UNCRPD by Swaziland in 2012
    • Ensuring the Ministry of Education in Mauritius allows extra time for students with disabilities when sitting exams

Leonard Cheshire Disability supports thousands of people with disabilities across the globe, through programmes focusing on education – ensuring children with disabilities go to school; livelihoods – supporting adults with disabilities into work; and campaigning – enabling young people with disabilities to campaign for their full inclusion in society. They carry out vital academic research at their Inclusive and Development Centre, based at University College London. Visit www.LCDisability.org

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