Our Perspectives

2030 Agenda demands meaningful participation from persons with disabilities


In Cambodia, UNDP works with UNICEF and WHO to support national efforts to coordinate and implement the National Disability Strategic Plan as well as to strengthen capacities of Cambodian Disabled Persons Organizations. Photo:Bona K/ UNICEF Cambodia

It has been 10 years since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) by the UN General Assembly in December 2006, and we are close to universal ratification of the treaty. This is a great achievement that recognizes the move from a charitable and medical approach to a human rights-based approach, ensuring an inclusive and accessible development for all.

The second decade of implementation of the CRPD will happen within, and will be amplified by, the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015. The SDGs are universal, they are ambitious and they ensure that we leave no one behind. Progress has been made to reach with rights, technology, social protection, science, affirmative action and awareness those of our friends, family members and fellow citizens who live with a disability.

So as we focus on supporting countries to achieve the SDGs, what will achieving the different goals and targets mean for persons with disabilities? For starters, we are talking about a very large group of citizens: 15 percent of the world’s population live with a disability – more than the peoples of the European Union, Russia and the United States together. In developing countries, three out of four are women, which also demands a gender analysis of causes and a robust engendered suite of interventions.

What could these be?

First, we need to ensure that persons with disabilities are active participants at the global and national level as policies are developed to promote sustainable development and peace. For example, in Bhutan, UNDP is supporting the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the formulation of national development plans. An assessment jointly conducted by UNDP and the Gross National Happiness Commission identifies people with disability as a priority group and recommends affirmative legislation supporting their rights.

In Belarus, UNDP is focusing efforts to reach SDG 10 on reduced inequalities. The Inclusive Belarus campaign aims to raise awareness about discrimination, barriers and inequality and fight the stigma and stereotypes that exist about vulnerable groups.

Second, data must be gathered and analyzed to measure progress. National development plans articulating priorities for peace, the planet, prosperity and partnerships should be inclusive of persons with disabilities and reflect their priorities, not only as a means of ensuring social protection, but to promote their empowerment and their rights across the full range of the SDGs

Justice sector reform, for example, will require understanding how marginalized groups in general, and persons with disabilities in particular, face mistreatment and are disproportionately denied access to justice. Women and girls who are disabled are at a higher risk of violence and abuse, including in situations of humanitarian crises.

Statistics collected on violence should reflect this reality. The SDG indicator on access to justice also calls for measuring the percentage of the prison population that is held in pre-trial detention. It will be important to understand to what extent the indicator will be disaggregated to take into account persons who face physical, mental, intellectual or sensory disabilities. These data can be useful to develop specialized services for persons with disabilities and ensure that the law adequately protects them. In Vietnam, for example, legal service providers raise awareness on how to better access and protect the rights and entitlements of persons with disabilities.

Third, development programmes will specifically promote the rights of persons with disabilities and actively partner with disabled persons organizations. In Cambodia, UNDP works with UNICEF and WHO to support national efforts to coordinate and implement the National Disability Strategic Plan as well as to strengthen capacities of Cambodian Disabled Persons Organizations.

In Turkmenistan, in an effort to promote social inclusion, UNDP supports the capacities and leadership of women with disabilities. In Lebanon, as part of its electoral assistance, UNDP is promoting the political participation of persons with disabilities by making polling centres more accessible and disseminating audio and braille materials.

Reducing inequalities requires a specific focus on those who have been marginalized and ignored. In many countries persons with disabilities continue to face the widespread denial of their fundamental rights. If we are to leave no-one behind, then our collective responsibility lies in promoting the rights of people with disability, so they also can live their lives with dignity and free from fear and want.

Magdy Martínez-Solimán Cambodia Viet Nam Turkmenistan Lebanon Sustainable development Poverty reduction and inequality Bhutan Blog post

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