The International Centre for Evidence in Disability (ICED) at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, along with CBM, Sightsavers, ICRC and Handicap International is hosting an International Symposium on ‘Disability in the SDGs: Forming Alliances and Building Evidence for the 2030 Agenda’ on 18 and 19 February 2016. We took this opportunity to interview Ms. Hannah Kuper, Co-director of the ICED.
What are your expectations from this ICED Symposium? What results do you hope for?
I am delighted with the interest that the ICED Symposium has received. I hope that the Symposium will strengthen collaborations between partners to best coordinate our efforts. I also hope that it will consolidate our joint resolve to provide more and better evidence that is needed to best improve the living circumstances of People with Disabilities so that the Sustainable Development Goals can be met for all, leaving no one behind.
How can improved data on disability help us achieving the SDGs?
We know that disability is very common and up to one in seven people globally have a disability. We also know that people with disabilities are often excluded from many aspects of life, such as education, employment and health care, and that they are often poorer. It is therefore likely that without a specific focus on disability that we will not be able to achieve the SDGs. But - it is true that what isn't counted doesn't count. We therefore cannot advocate for specific attention needed for people with disabilities unless we can demonstrate that the different SDGs are not on track to being fulfilled for people with disabilities. So, unless we can show that children with disabilities are lagging behind at school, for example, we will not be able to lobby for more inclusive educational services so that the SDG of "Quality Education" is achieved.
How does the 2030 framework empower persons with disabilities?
The SDGs include several specific mentions of people with disabilities, in contrast to the earlier Millennium Development Goals. This provides additional ammunition for people with disabilities to demand inclusion in the programmes set out to achieve the SDGs. The importance of including people with disabilities is particularly highlighted with respect to education, urban planning, data collection and livelihoods, but more work is needed to make sure that people with disabilities are included across the board.
Hannah is the co-director of the International Centre for Evidence in Disability and work to expand the research and teaching activities of LSHTM in the field of global disability. Her main research interest is disability in low and middle income countries, with a particular focus on older people. She has an undergraduate degree from Oxford University in Human Sciences and a doctorate from Harvard University in epidemiology. She has worked at LSHTM, on and off, since 1996. She has been a member of the International Centre for Eye Health since 2002, undertaking research into the prevalence, impact and control of blindness.