Ask your MP to end exclusion

Mary Nidienga Chuck (5)
Mary, who lives in a leprosy village is South Sudan. Living with disabilities and shunned by her family, life is a struggle for her.

One in every seven people in the world has a disability. Our hope is that future development work will not leave them behind.

Last week, we blogged about the UN general assembly’s discussions about the importance of including people with disabilities in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The original Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) did not address disability, and although they have ensured great progress towards reducing poverty has been made, people with disabilities have been left behind. They face additional barriers in everyday life, in access to education, in the workplace, and in the ways they are stigmatised and face discrimination.

Lynne Featherstone MP represented the UK in signing the Manhattan Declaration on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities last week, and she later wrote a blog post explaining the UK government’s commitment to improving the lives of people with disabilities. But with two years to go until the deadline for the MDGs, there are still many decisions to be made before the Post-2015 Goals are agreed upon.

That’s why we’re asking you to help put disability and Neglected Tropical Diseases (leprosy is included in this group) on the emerging development agenda by writing to your MP. By asking your MP to approach those involved in Post-2015 decision-making and campaign for them to recognise the importance of helping the world’s most marginalised people, you could help transform lives.

We interviewed almost 5,000 people affected by leprosy in nine countries across Africa and Asia as part of a consultation on the MDGs. While they said they had noticed better access to education and an improved infrastructure in recent years, they were not fully benefiting from the advances made.

They wanted the inequality in society and discrimination against people affected by leprosy addressed. They also wanted to be included in education and training programmes so that they would not be reliant on begging, and wanted the stigma in their communities broken down.

Will you join with us and campaign for change? Download and complete our letter template from the “Lobby your MP” page on our website, adding in your MP’s details and your own, then send it by email or by post. You can find contact details for your MP by searching here.

Each letter could help make a difference, encouraging politicians to approach those involved in developing the Post-2015 Agenda and advocate for inclusion. Add your voice to the call to world leaders  today!

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Putting disability on the Post-2015 Development Agenda

post-2015

Last week marked an important step on the road to creating a new development agenda post-2015. The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have ensured great leaps forward in worldwide poverty reduction and development, but as the target date for their achievement draws closer, there is much for world leaders to discuss. They must create a new set of development targets that will improve the lives of people in all countries and address complex needs.

This is no easy task, and the UN’s general assembly engaged in talks last week as part of a year of discussions on what goals should replace the MDGs when they expire. Crucially for The Leprosy Mission, some events focused on the inclusion of disability-related issues beyond 2015.

Key moments

23 September: The assembly’s High-level Meeting on Disability and Development adopted a document outlining the importance of ensuring the inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of development and emphasising the need for “urgent action” on more disability-inclusive strategies. Points for action include tackling discrimination and access to employment and education.

General secretary Ban Ki-moon said: “We must act now to remove barriers to access to physical environments, transportation and information and communications. And we must not only lift the physical barriers – but also the barriers in attitudes that fuel stigma and discrimination.”

24 September: 2013 Manhattan Declaration on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities. The declaration stressed the importance of creating societies that are inclusive to all as part of the emerging development agenda. Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development Lynne Featherstone represented the UK making a commitment to the inclusion of disabled people in international development.

In a blog post, she promised that the UK will help put disability on the development agenda.

“It is telling that of the 57million children currently out of school in the world today, over a third have a disability,” she said.

“That’s why I’m announcing this week that the Department for International Development will help address this by ensuring that from this day forward, all of the school construction we directly support is designed to allow disability access.”

She called the week’s events a “positive sign that the UN is serious about strengthening the rights of disabled people”.

25 September: World leaders highlighted that the MDGs have been “the most successful anti-poverty push in history”, but agreed to accelerate action until 2015, due to “unevenness” in achievement so far. They agreed to hold another summit in 2015 to adopt the next set of development goals.

Ban Ki-moon said that the post-2015 goals must have particular emphasis on women, young people, and marginalised groups, as well as protecting the planet and addressing climate change.

A response from the International Disability and Development Consortium expressed concern at the impact the exclusion of disability from the MDGs has had over the last decade, saying that “millions of people have been left behind, stalling development and entrenching inequality”.

“Even reported successes in achieving the Millennium Development Goals have failed to improve the lives of people with disabilities – for example although more children are going to school globally, children with disabilities in some countries are twice as likely as children without disabilities to be out of school,” said the statement.

Watch this space for details on how you can help us campaign for disability and Neglected Tropical Diseases to be included in the Post-2015 Development Agenda!