Include disabled in UN’s post-MDG development agenda, say activists

ÔÇÿMillennium Development Goals with its deadline of 2015 has done little to improve the condition of the disabledÔÇÖ

By Kundan Pandey
Published: Thursday 05 September 2013

While the global development fraternity and political leaders are gearing up to discuss the post-2015 human development goals during the UN General Assembly meeting later this month, activists working for the disabled have expressed serious concern over non-inclusion of disability as a focused goal in the report. The report is being prepared by a panel of eminent persons. Experts in India hope that the government will echo their concerns in the meeting scheduled on September 23 in New York.

The meeting is part of the process that would set the post-millennium development goals (MDGs). In July 2012, the secretary general of the United Nations announced a High-level Panel (HLP) of eminent Persons to provide guidance and recommendations on the subject.

Chairperson of Disabled People’s International (DPI), Javed Abidi, said MDGs have not benefited people living with disabilities. “In the year 2000, when the Millennium Development Goals were formulated, disability was not mentioned at all. It was assumed that the other goals would automatically apply to persons with disabilities. However, two years before its deadline for completion, none of the goals have been met for persons with disabilities. This is a mistake that the world cannot afford to make again. Therefore, the discussions and deliberations on post -2015 development goals will have a significant bearing on the lives of one billion people with disabilities.”

The HLP report mentions a few things about the disabled in its report, but it is not sufficient, said Abidi. The report states: “We should ensure that no person – regardless of ethnicity, gender, geography, disability, race or other status – is denied universal human rights and basic economic opportunities.” Further, the report has stated quite emphatically that “The indicators that track them should be disaggregated to ensure no one is left behind and targets should only be considered ‘achieved’ if they are met for all relevant income and social groups.”

But, this is not enough to achieve the goals for persons with disabilities in the post-2015 development agenda, said Abidi’s organization which has proposed specific targets and indicators for persons with disabilities under each goal addressed in the HLP Report.

DPI will participate in the high level meeting on disability and development which is scheduled in New York on September 23. DPI was established in 1981 has presence in 130 countries and its headquarter is in Canada.

Why disability needs priority in the post -2015 development agenda

  • More than one billion people in the world live with some form of disability, of whom nearly 200 million experience considerable difficulties in functioning. In the years ahead, disability will be an even greater concern because its prevalence is on the rise
  • About 80 per cent of people with disabilities live in developing countries, 82 per cent live below the poverty line and 20 per cent in this group are the poorest of the poor
  • UNESCO studies have suggested that only 1–2 per cent of children with disabilities in developing countries receive any education
  • In developing countries, 80-90 per cent of people with disabilities of working age are unemployed
  • It is estimated that only 2 per cent of people with disabilities in developing countries have access to rehabilitation and appropriate basic services
  • Women and girls with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to abuse. A small 2004 survey in Odisha, India, found that virtually all the women and girls with disabilities were beaten at home, 25 per cent of women with intellectual disabilities had been raped and 6 per cent of women with disabilities had been forcibly sterilized
  • According to UNICEF, 30 per cent of street youth have some kind of disability
  • UN estimates that 25 per cent of the entire world population is adversely affected in one way or another as a result of disabilities


Universal goals identified by high level panel
There are 12 illustrative universal goals identified by HLP. These include—end poverty; empower girls and women and achieve gender equality; provide quality education and lifelong learning; ensure healthy lives; ensure food security and good nutrition; achieve universal access to water and sanitation; secure sustainable energy; create jobs; sustainable livelihoods and equitable growth; manage natural resource assets sustainably; ensure good governance and effective institutions; ensure stable and peaceful societies; create a global enabling environment and catalyse long-term finance

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