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Towards an inclusive future - publication launch

A panel of six people are making a presentation at a conference
Mary Keogh, CBM Ireland discusses the key messages of the "Towards inclusive and accessible future for all" publication

The UN Partnership to promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD) launched its publication  ‘Towards an Inclusive and Accessible Future for All’ in September 2013 amidst the High Level Meeting on Disability and Development and the UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals. The publication gives a voice to persons with disabilities, articulating what a disability inclusive post 2015 framework should look like.

In the midst of the September High Level Meeting on Disability and Development and the UN summit on the Millennium Development Goals, the UN Partnership to promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD) launched a publication called  ‘Towards an Inclusive and Accessible Future for All’.  

Recognising that if development is the process of enlarging people’s choices in order to create the conditions for shared prosperity, then development can't overlook persons with disabilities. Nevertheless the voices of persons with disabilities have remained largely on the margins of the global development debate.

The publication therefore aims to address this void, documenting the voices of persons with disabilities on what a disability-inclusive post 2015 framework should look like and outlining practical suggestions on how to achieve this objective. It hence gives a voice to persons with disabilities in the post 2015 process.

In order to represent the voice of persons with disabilities the publication draws from two main sources, first the ‘disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond’ online consultations organised by UNDESA and UNICEF in March 2013 and second a series of face to face interviews at the Conference of State Parties in July and as well as skype interviews with disability advocates. 

Key challenges for disability inclusive development

‘We need to recognise how the different types of inequalities intersect such as disability and poverty, children, women, ethnic minority, rural, age, sexuality etc. All these attributes add on more layers to the barriers that makes it even more of a challenge to overcome. Persons with disabilities are human beings with multiple identities’ – interview participant from India

Both interview and online participants highlighted a number of existing challenges to disability inclusive development. These challenges included:
  • Negative attitudes and perceptions of persons with disabilities and the prevalence of the charity approach
  • Lack of disaggregated data and therefore no possibility of measuring inclusion
  • Absence of universal guidelines on disability inclusive development
  • Absence of the voice of persons with disabilities in decision-making
  • Lack of recognition of disability as a cross-cutting issue
  • The need for political leadership

Key messages for the post 2015 development framework

While challenges were highlighted, those interviewed also had hope for the new development framework that will be developed over the coming months. Each interview participant was resolute that persons with disabilities will not be overlooked in the next development framework and six key messages for the future emerged.

These key messages are:
  1. A new approach is needed – an approach that acknowledges the complexity and diversity of disability and recognises human rights, not charity, as the basis for the inclusion of persons with disabilities.
  2. Disability-disaggregation of data and the generation of reliable information on persons with disabilities are critical elements of a disability-inclusive development agenda.
  3. Accessibility of the physical environment, transportation, information and communication infrastructure is indispensable to the sustainable inclusion of persons with disabilities and a fundamental pre-requisite for disability-inclusive development.
  4. Nothing about us without us” is as valid as ever. The meaningful participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organisations must be ensured in the formulation and implementation of development policy at all levels.
  5. Disability is a cross-cutting issue, relevant to all domains of human life. A disability-inclusive perspective must therefore be applied to all areas of development.
  6. The political leadership of governments is indispensable to the realisation of the rights of persons with disabilities, but must be accompanied by mechanisms to facilitate multi-stakeholder engagement and strong channels of accountability.

Building on the momentum

The September UN meetings and recent outcome documents from the UN such as the HLMDD outcome document, the High Level Panel Report and the Secretary General report  all demonstrate a growing commitment to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in development. Nevertheless the momentum needs to be maintained and conversation needs to be sustained. The sentiment of this report is well summarised by the remarks made by an interview participant from Bangladesh:

“Persons with disabilities should not be excluded in the post 2015 agenda framework. Their needs and rights should be clearly acknowledged like others. ‘Leave no one behind’ means that to end poverty, not to reduce but to end poverty, persons with disabilities should be included”.

More reading

CBM’s engagement in advocacy

CBM is working with other organisations to advocate for a disability-inclusive society


High Level Meeting on Disability and Development

On the 23 September 2013, the United Nations is holding the High Level Meeting on Disability and Development



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