By Comas Okoli
More than 1 billion people or 15% of the world population are living with disabilities— the world’s largest and most disadvantaged group— most of which, are in developing countries!
Around the world, persons with disabilities face physical, social, economic and attitudinal barriers that exclude them from participating fully and effectively as equal members of society, they are socially marginalized and consequently not relevant to themselves, their families and the society at large.
They are disproportionately represented among the world’s poorest, and lack equal access to basic resources, such as education, employment, healthcare, social and legal support systems, as well as having a higher rate of mortality. In spite of this situation, disability has remained largely invisible in the mainstream development agenda and its processes.
Earlier, the international disability movement achieved an extraordinary advance in 2006, with the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention follows decades of work by the United Nations to change attitudes and approaches to disability that would ensure the full equality and participation of persons with disabilities in the society.
The Convention is intended as a human rights instrument with an explicit, development dimension. However, to realize equality and participation for persons with disabilities, they must be included in all development processes and, now more importantly, in the new emerging post-2015 development framework.
The UN General Assembly emphasizes that the genuine achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other internationally agreed development goals, requires the inclusion and integration of the rights, and well-being, as well as the perspective of persons with disabilities in development efforts at national, regional and international levels.
In 2011, the Assembly decided to convene a one-day high-level meeting on disability and development (HLMDD) at the level of Heads of State and Government, under the theme: “The way forward: a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond”.
The HLMDD will present a historical opportunity to mainstream disability in the global agenda towards a post -2015 development framework that would translate the international commitment for a disability-inclusive society into concrete action and real changes on the ground in the lives of persons with disabilities.
The timing of the HLMDD to be held on 23 September 2013 is strategic; taking place five years after the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities entered into force, two years after release of the World Report on Disability and two years away from 2015 — the target date for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — and thereafter, the commencement of the post-2015 agenda and new development priorities.
This outcome of the HLMDD will take shape in a concise, action-oriented outcome document that will provide policy guidance and help strengthen global efforts to ensure accessibility for and inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society and development.
It’s time to break barriers and open doors: to realize an inclusive society for all!
By 3 December 2013, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), we will have the outcome document of the HLMDD, which would provide a blueprint for action and ideal platform to launch global efforts to help realize the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in society and shape the future of development for all!
Culled from United Nation’s Enable Publication