Global Disability Summit

The Department for International Development will today host the UK Government’s first ever Global Disability Summit to shine a light on the discrimination and stigma faced by up to 1 billion people globally who have a disability

The UK will host its Global Disability Summit at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London and will call on international partners to tackle the prejudice faced by disabled people. 

An estimated one billion people – 15% of the world’s population – have some form of disability an estimated 80% of these people live in developing counties.

The International Development Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, will lead a global call to ‘move from rhetoric to action’ on improving the lives of disabled people, including some of the poorest and most vulnerable in the world.

As part of the UK’s commitment, Ms. Mordaunt will announce a new innovative UK Aid Connect programme which will work with different organisations within small communities to support disabled people into jobs in the developing world.

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, said: “The path a person takes in life should not be dictated by their disability and yet people are forced, every day, to deal with prejudice and even violence.

“That is why the UK’s first ever Global Disability Summit is dedicated to bringing together our international partners and transforming the lives of the world’s most vulnerable and why we are committed to ending discrimination and stigma against disabled people.

International Development Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, said:“Discrimination and stigma against disabled people is a global injustice – one that has been ignored for too long – and one we need to fix urgently.

“Today I am calling for countries around the developing world to stand alongside disabled people in their countries and commit to end stigma and fully value the contribution disabled people can give to the success of those nations.

“This isn’t just the right thing to do for humanity – it is also the smart thing to do because it’s impossible to end extreme poverty if a significant part of your society is left out of the deal.

“Today we will learn from each other and will make commitments to enable disabled people to reach their full potential.”

Ms. Mordaunt, who referenced the importance of this Summit when she became the first Minister to use sign language at the despatch box of the House of Commons earlier this month, has committed the UK Government to a number of initiatives to demonstrate our commitment and leadership.

These include:

• a new global partnership – ‘AT Scale’, to transform access to and affordability of life-changing devices and basic technology, such as wheelchairs, prosthetics, hearing aids and glasses; this would be aimed at reaching 500 million people globally by 2030 by bringing organisations together to share data and consider how best to tackle issues of innovation, affordability and availability – work that would benefit disabled people in the UK and overseas;

• a new innovative UK Aid Connect programme, led by charities Sightsavers and Leonard Cheshire Disability, which will work with organisations within small communities to support disabled people into jobs in the developing world;

• a new six-year programme to design ways to help 100,000 disabled people to access health services, 10,000 disabled children to access education, and up to 45,000 disabled people to increase their incomes. This programme will also help to improve policymaking in the UK;

• increasing DFID’s work with businesses around the globe, supporting disabled people as employers, employees and consumers.

There will be four central themes for the Summit, around which the participants will build commitments and showcase best practice. These are:

tackling stigma and discrimination

inclusive education

routes to economic empowerment

harnessing technology and innovation

The Chair of the International Disability Alliance, Ana Lucia Arellano, said: “IDA is welcoming this historic Global Disability Summit and commends the UK Government for this timely initiative. We, as a representative organisation of persons with disabilities, are committed to the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and we see the Summit as a critical impetus into its implementation in every corner of the world.

“We believe that we can achieve the inclusion of persons with disabilities in society only through the meaningful and genuine stakeholder partnership between organisations of persons with disabilities, governments, the private and all actors involved. We are committed to supporting Governments and all participants of the Summit in the implementation of their commitments that they are expressing today.”

Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Labour and Social Protection, Ukur Yatani, said: “The Global Disability Summit provides nations, together with civil society, a rare and welcome opportunity to act in tandem on this important issue of disability – an area which has been neglected for too long.

“We need to delve into the causes of the existing and emerging gaps in the sector and provide realistic trackable actions that will immensely improve the situation for people with disabilities from the countries represented in this unique summit.”


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