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.
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!