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Parliamentarians to UK government: make the right decision

Natasha Kennedy, June 2014
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“A year ago, disability issues in development would never have received this sort of attention”

As we eagerly await the publication of the UK government’s response to the IDC’s call to prioritise disability within development work or risk failing the world’s poorest people, many members of parliament have been speaking out this week urging the government to make the right decision.

comment piece in the Independent by David Blunkett MP emphasised the need for politicians to do the right thing and make sure that our aid work tackles those who need it most.

This is fantastic news: a year ago disability issues in development would never have received this sort of exposure and attention. But the voices of our campaign supporters and other groups working to achieve inclusion for people with disabilities in global aid are being heard by the people who make decisions on international development.

Blunkett wrote: “I am not alone in hoping they do not miss this opportunity to lead the way in setting out a clear strategy for the inclusion of people with disabilities in their international development work.

It was a serious omission that the current set of Millennium Development Goals did not explicitly recognise the enormous challenge faced by those with disabilities, this additional challenge coming as it does on top of deep-seated poverty and often gender inequality.

It is now becoming clear that genuine success against internationally agreed development targets will never be achieved without taking account of the rights, well-being and perspective of people with disabilities.

In a House of Lords debate on international development on Wednesday 11 June, Peers including Lord Crisp (Sightsavers’ Chair of Trustees) called on the UK government to commit to prioritising people with disabilities in global development plans. He urged the government to use their political capital to influence others to ensure that development goals never again exclude people with disabilities and other marginalised groups. After all, he said: “It was this government who said that their international development plans should never leave anybody behind.”

Lord Low of Dalston said that it was an opportunity for the UK government to once again show leadership in the field of international development by supporting people who are frequently the most deprived and marginalised.

What is clear from this week’s activity is that it’s not only Sightsavers, and the nearly 13,000 supporters who have so far signed up to our Put Us in the Picture campaign, geared up to hold the government to account if they make the wrong decision. It also seems those sitting in the Houses of Parliament are ready and willing to do the same.

By Natasha Kennedy, Sightsavers’ Policy Campaign Manager

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