On 18 July the UK, joined by the government of Sierra Leone, the United Nations, civil society and disabled persons organisations, and the British Council convened a ‘satellite summit’ event in the lead up to the Global Disability Summit in London on 24 July, which will be attended by the government of Sierra Leone and Sierra Leonean Disabled Persons Organisations (DPO).
The Global Disability Summit Satellite event was the first in a series of events in Freetown that drew attention to this critical and long neglected issue, and galvanised the necessary commitments from a wide range of stakeholders to bring about change. This was one of many events taking place around the globe in the lead up to the Global Disability Summit in London, hosted by the UK government, in partnership with the government of Kenya and the International Disability Alliance (IDA).
The government of Sierra Leone signalled strong support for this agenda and will be represented at the Global Disability Summit by Ms Nabeela Tuni, Hon Minister of Planning and Economic Development; Ms Baindu Dassam, Hon Minister for Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs; and Mr Mohamed Haji-Kella, Deputy Minister of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs. Joseph Alieu, Head of the Welfare Society for the Disabled in Kambia will also attend the Global Summit to represent Sierra Leone civil society and persons with disabilities.
At yesterday’s event, the government of Sierra Leone, the United Nations, and other participating organisations signed up to the ‘Charter for Change’ and committed to a series of actions, including: advancing inclusive quality education for children with disabilities; opening up roots to economic empowerment and financial inclusion; utilising the Washington Group Questions to gather and use better data to understand the scale and nature of the challenges; and to promote leadership and representation of people with disabilities. Participants also committed to come back together after the Global Disability Summit in London to develop working plan to implement these commitments.
British High Commissioner Guy Warrington said:
People with disabilities in Sierra Leone face significant stigma and challenges in accessing public services and employment opportunities. The country made significant progress in ensuring that people with disabilities could vote and play their role in the democratic process during the 2018 election with support from UK Aid, the UN and other partners. It is now time to ensure that all Sierra Leoneans, regardless of their disability status, can play their full role in the economic and social development of this country. By working together, we can achieve lasting change for people with disabilities in the world’s poorest countries, and contribute to a healthier, fairer and more prosperous future for all.