Globally, an estimated 1 billion people have a disability and 80% of those with disabilities live in developing countries. People with disabilities face multiple challenges and significant levels of stigma and discrimination in schools, workplaces and accessing public services. Too often they are denied access to power and a voice, which contributes to inequality of access to livelihoods, services, security and justice.
The Government has confirmed that disability inclusion is a top priority for the Department for International Development (DFID) and it is taking steps to meet and promote the ambition of the Sustainable Development Goals, including those concerning disability. DFID is scaling up its work on disability and says it will ensure that UK aid is supporting programmes that are proven to improve the lives of people with disabilities, including quality education, jobs and healthcare.
As you know, the UK and Kenyan governments and the International Disability Alliance (IDA) will host the first Global Disability Summit in London’s Olympic Park on 24 July. The summit will bring together more than 700 delegates from governments, donors, private sector organisations, charities and organisations of persons with disabilities to raise the global profile of this long-neglected area. It will seek to mobilise new global and national commitments on disability and showcase good practice, innovation and evidence from across the world.
I believe that the UK’s work and spending on international development should have two primary objectives: reducing poverty and reducing inequality. It should work towards addressing inequality in power and the exercise of rights, to ensure that marginalised groups, including people living with disabilities, are not left behind.
I hope that the Global Disability Summit will provide an opportunity to make significant progress for people with disabilities and I can assure you that I will press the Government to take action on this issue at every opportunity.