News story

UK to make disability a global priority

International Development Secretary announces new focus on disability on International Day for People with Disabilities

Secretary of State Priti Patel meets staff at Leonard Cheshire Disability in London

The UK will lead a step-change in the world’s efforts to end extreme poverty by pushing disability up the global development agenda, International Development Secretary Priti Patel has announced.

To mark International Day for People with Disabilities (3 December) Ms Patel is calling on partners to do more to prioritise reaching the poorest and most excluded by ensuring people with disabilities are not being left behind.

The International Development Secretary will give her first keynote speech on disability next week at a Bond event to celebrate the International Day.

In her speech Ms Patel will set out how people with disabilities will be systematically and consistently included in the work the Department for International Development (DFID) is supporting in developing countries.

This builds on the commitment put forward in the Bilateral Development Review 2016, for DFID to become a global leader on disability.

Speaking on International Day for People with Disabilities the International Development Secretary Priti Patel said:

More than one billion people are living with disabilities globally - 80% of whom live in developing countries.

These are some of the most excluded people in the world, often locked out of education, jobs, and overlooked by decision-makers.

I am determined to establish DFID as the global leader in this neglected and under prioritised area – people with disabilities must be at the heart of our work to build a more prosperous and secure future, which is in all of our interests.

I will be working with governments, NGOs, multilaterals, businesses and individuals to ensure that nobody is left behind.

DFID’s focus areas on disability inclusion will include:

  • upholding our commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to ensure people with disabilities systematically benefit from international aid and humanitarian assistance;
  • ensuring people with disabilities access a quality education and productive employment;
  • working with national governments and the private sector to ensure people with disabilities no longer face stigma and discrimination; and
  • pushing partners to collect crucial data to improve our understanding of disability in development, increase their internal expertise on disability; and design programmes that prioritise and deliver results for people with disabilities.

This builds on DFID’s existing work to support people living with disabilities in developing countries access work opportunities and schooling, and access the rehabilitative care they need:

  • In Pakistan DFID is helping children with mild to moderate disabilities attend mainstream schools.
  • DFID’s investment in Ghana’s mental health system has delivered impressive results – training over 3,867 health care workers and we are helping to erode the deeply-rooted stigmas associated with mental ill health.
  • Through work with Leonard Cheshire, DFID is leading African universities and others on research to understand, and find solutions to, the barriers people with disabilities in Kenya, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zambia face when accessing health services, education, employment and social protection.

In addition the UK will continue to prevent avoidable disability, for example through our work on health system strengthening and the control of neglected tropical diseases such as lymphatic filariasis and trachoma. The UK is also redoubling efforts to halve the disability employment gap in the UK through the Work and Health Green Paper.

Published 3 December 2016