DFID PUBLISHES ITS DISABILITY STRATEGY: Foreword from the Secretary of State

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At the UK’s first ever Global Disability Summit in July 2018, the world promised to do more for people with disabilities – who have all too often been neglected in developing countries. I promised that the UK would take a lead in working towards a fairer world in which no one is left behind.

We will not eradicate poverty, deliver the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)1 or implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities2 (UN CRPD) without including people with disabilities in all our work. That is why this strategy is vital.
This strategy – the first my department has ever published on disability inclusion - outlines the scale of the challenge we face. One billion of the world’s population have a disability, with an estimated 80% of people with disabilities living in developing countries.
We know that the UK, and the world as a whole, has made far too little progress up to now in tackling the root causes of the stigma, discrimination and abuse that hold people with disabilities back.

It is pivotal that this strategy is ambitious and builds on our existing achievements.
My department’s achievements are considerable. We have provided hundreds of grants to grassroots disabled people’s organisations in developing countries to advocate for their rights. We have provided an education to 46,000 girls with disabilities through the Girls’ Education Challenge. We have constructed accessible toilet facilities in schools and public places in Mozambique – allowing people with disabilities to access safe, clean water and sanitation. We have trained health workers in Ghana to better address and care for those with mental health conditions, and we have provided skills training and apprenticeships to 20,000 people with disabilities in Bangladesh. And we have done this in different settings, all around the world. For example, I am particularly proud of our work pioneering new assessment tools to help children with disabilities in opposition-held areas in Syria.
But now is the time to think even bigger.

With advice from people with disabilities and their representative organisations all over the world, we have selected and prioritised the areas where we can add the most value and make the greatest impact.

1 The SDGs include people with disabilities in their overarching call to ‘leave no one behind’ but also contain a total of 11 explicit references to people with disabilities under five of the seventeen goals (education, growth and employment, inequality, safe and inclusive human settlements, and data collection and monitoring).

2 In 2007, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) was adopted to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all people with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.

We are sure that increasing access to inclusive quality education, working with other governments to improve social protection, empowering people with disabilities to get into work, and stepping up our efforts in humanitarian contexts will prove the most effective method of making the most significant difference. We will also step up our efforts on mental health – a seriously neglected issue around the world.

We must consider the differential needs of girls and women with disabilities, tackle the causes of stigma and discrimination and ensure people with disabilities can access the same opportunities as everyone else, such as through assistive technology.
And most importantly of all, we need to hold ourselves to account, and deliver on our promises. We will also be asking all of our stakeholders how they think we are doing. This can no longer be business as usual.
This means getting my own department in order. This strategy sets out how we intend to improve representation of people with disabilities across DFID and where they can most effectively influence our work.

We are setting the bar high, not just for ourselves – but for all development agencies, suppliers and governments.
And at every stage of the journey, we will remind ourselves why we are doing this. Including people with disabilities is not just the right thing to do for humanity - it creates healthier, fairer and more prosperous societies for everyone to enjoy. Unless every one of our citizens can reach their full potential, our nations never will. That is our incentive.

Now is the time for our ideas to be implemented. Now is the time, for women, girls, men and boys with disabilities to be consistently included in, and benefit from, the opportunities that are available to everyone in society.

Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP
Secretary of State for International Development

Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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