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UN Secretary-General says disability-inclusive development must be “enhanced priority”

Sightsavers 12 May 2017 A young woman sitting in a classroom smiling. In the background other students work on sewing machines.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that making global development inclusive of people with disabilities “must be an enhanced priority”, in answer to a question raised at a United Nations Association UK event in London on Wednesday 10 May by Harriet Ngendanabo, a Sightsavers campaigner based in Uganda.

Harriet – a graduate of Connecting the Dots*, a training programme for young people with disabilities that supports them to gain skills and find employment – had submitted the question (asked by moderator Natalie Samarasinghe): “People with disabilities have been left out of global development discussions for too long – how will you change this?”

Guterres answered by highlighting the importance of understanding that the number of people with disabilities in the world “is enormous… we are talking about something that should be in the centre of all development strategies, should be in the centre of all economic and social policies of all kinds; in education, in health, in urban development and taking into account the way houses are built.”

“It is very clear that this must be an enhanced priority. It is also clear that we have not done enough, in the UN we have not done enough, and this is one of the areas we have selected in order to correct what has been a lack of sufficient commitment in the past.” (See full answer)

Sightsavers’ policy campaigns team attended the event, held at the Central Hall, Westminster. Responding to Guterres’ answer, Policy Campaign Officer Ross McMullan said, “We’re delighted to hear that people with disabilities are to be a priority for the UN Secretary-General. In his response to Harriet’s question, Mr Guterres recognised the key issue behind our Put Us in the Picture campaign, which is that people with disabilities should be at the centre of all development strategies, and acknowledged that in the past not enough has been done to ensure their participation. We look forward to hearing more from the UN Secretary-General about his plans for this area of his work in the coming months.”

We’re thrilled that Harriet was able to raise this vital question and will continue to call on global leaders to make disability-inclusive development a reality. You can help us do it – find out how!


Harriet’s question is addressed at 53m 09s

*funded by Sightsavers and the European Commission

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