People with disabilities failed by dearth of funding worldwide, say campaigners

As UK co-hosts world’s first disability summit, Theresa May warns that most vulnerable are ‘forced, every day, to deal with prejudice and even violence.’

Frank, who has cerebral palsy, lives in Kakuma refugee camp, in northern Kenya, which is home to more than 185,000 people. Things are tough enough here for families, and tougher still for those with disabled children. Frank’s mother has recently started to take him to a therapy centre run by the organisation Humanity and Inclusion, which works to improve the living conditions of people with disabilities. Frank’s family fled from violence in Burundi. Kate Holt, Humanity and Inclusion in The Guardian

Lucy Lamble, The Guardian 24 July 2018

People with disabilities worldwide are being let down by underfunding whether they live in poor or wealthy nations.

Despite growing recognition of the importance of inclusion, this is not supported by the reality, say disability organisations. Many countries have been slow to implement the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The UK government is holding its first Global Disability Summit, co-hosted with the International Disability Alliance and the Kenyan government, on Tuesday in London. Government officials, the private sector, donor agencies and NGOs will be asked to support a charter for change endorsing rights, dignity and inclusion for people with disabilities.

The prime minister, Theresa May, said the summit would be dedicated to “transforming the lives of the most vulnerable”. “The path a person takes in life should not be dictated by their disability and yet people are forced, every day, to deal with prejudice and even violence,” she said.

“We are committed to ending discrimination and stigma against disabled people.”

Vladimir Cuk, executive director of the International Disability Alliance. Paulo Filgueiras, UN Photo

May’s comments came just a week after the UK government had caved to pressure and agreed to backdate benefit payments to ill and disabled claimants who were left thousands of pounds out of pocket as a result of a series of bureaucratic errors. In 2017, a UN inquiry criticised the UK for not auditing the impact of austerity policies on the disabled as well as failing to uphold disability rights across the wider range from education, work and housing to health, transport and social security.

Progress has been made globally, such as the Peruvian constitution recognising the right to legal capacity for people with intellectual or mental health disabilities. Yet one in five people living in poverty worldwide have a disability, and 82% of those with disabilities live on less than $1 a day. Despite many countries making inroads in reducing poverty, the situation for people with disabilities has not improved alongside. About 40% of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend school.

“To realise the promise of the sustainable development goals to leave no one behind, and to further the principles reflected in the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, we need to work together to share expertise, coordinate actions and raise the profile of disability across a broader range of organisations contributing to international development efforts,” said Vladimir Cuk, executive director of the International Disability Alliance.

Cuk pointed to the discrepancy in the commitments that followed the “big three” global conventions – the rights of the child, the rights of women and the rights of people with disabilities.

While Unicef receives $5bn (£3.8bn) annually harnessing global political commitment to implement the convention on the rights of the child, the UN Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has a budget of just $5m per year.

UN Women, which campaigns for women’s rights, has a projected $1.15bn for 2018-2019.

“It’s not that other groups receive too much financial support,” said Cuk. “It’s just that the discrepancy explains in part the relatively slow implementation of rights for people with disabilities.”

The London summit aims to encourage further partnerships between bigger NGOs and those with specialist expertise. The international development secretary, Penny Mordaunt, said: “For too long many people living with disabilities in the world’s poorest countries have not been able to fulfil their potential due to stigma or a lack of practical support. They are, for example, missing out on school and the chance to work.

“Discrimination is unacceptable in today’s society.”

Source The Guardian

Also see
Stigma and struggles: living with disability in Kenya – in pictures in The Guardian
Global Disability Summit is full of opportunity and promise in The Guardian

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