I have always found it hard to stand by and do nothing in the face of injustice. And after years of focusing on promoting and protecting human rights, I know first-hand that campaigning works.
Change is incremental, but it starts with individuals choosing to take action, and working collectively with others to demand an alternative. Unquestioning acceptance of the status quo can only perpetuate inequalities and injustice, but by working together, we can achieve great things. Signing a petition or taking part in a social action is just one step on this journey.
On 24 July, the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID) is co-hosting a global disability summit with the government of Kenya and the International Disability Alliance.
The aim of the summit is to focus international attention on disability and development, and to encourage development leaders from across governments, multinational organisations (like the World Bank and the UN) and the private sector to commit to making a disability-inclusive world a reality. If they do, it could change the lives of the 800 million people with disabilities who live in the world’s poorest countries.
There has never been a global disability summit quite like this, where the objective goes beyond raising awareness, and calls for firm commitments from all attendees that will directly benefit people with disabilities in developing countries. Without strategic intervention, people with disabilities are at risk of being left behind in the global fight to eliminate poverty.
The summit is the brainchild of DFID, which two years ago declared its
intention to be a global leader in inclusive development. What is required now of DFID is bold leadership that will result in global action.
For this to happen, DFID needs to use its influence to ensure the widest possible attendance at the summit from representatives across different sectors. Even more importantly, it needs to ensure that all those attending commit to policy or financial changes that will improve the lives of people with disabilities in developing countries.
It doesn’t end there. In order to ensure the summit brings about long-term change, DFID needs to plan how to track and monitor the progress of any commitments made at the summit. Integral to this is the commitment of another government to host a second summit in five years’ time, to ensure this long-term global focus.
What does inclusive development mean for the 800 million people living with disabilities in developing countries? It means a world in which everyone has equal access to health services, education, and employment, and the ability to participate equally in society without fear of stigma or discrimination. It is this vision of an equal world that Put Us in the Picture campaigns for.
Next week’s Global Disability Summit could be a sea change in attitude and action towards people with disabilities in developing countries. Help us to make this change a reality by showing your support for disability inclusion, and urging leaders to make the summit count. By joining us in calling on them to support inclusive development, you’ll be part of a global movement for change that could benefit 800 million of the world’s most vulnerable people.
Tessa is Sightsavers’ Policy Campaign Manager.