Key Issues for Disability Inclusive Development in the Context of the 2030 Agenda

Good evening everyone. My name is Dorodi Sharma and I am representing Disabled People’s International (DPI) at this meeting. DPI is a cross-disability, global disabled people’s organisation established in 1981 – the International Year of Disabled Persons. We have members in over 150 countries across seven regions of the world – Africa, Arab region, Asia-Pacific, CIS region, Europe, Latin America, and North America & Caribbean. DPI members are national umbrella DPOs who in turn have hundreds and thousands of member NGOs and DPOs. Majority of our members are in the Global South. Therefore, DPI’s expansive reach at the grassroots is quite unique. DPI was privileged to be part of the first meeting of this network. Since then, DPI has organised its 9th World Assembly in New Delhi from April 11-13. Over 200 DPO leaders from 70 countries participated in this Assembly. My presentation today is primarily based on the discussions that emerged at this Assembly.

When it comes to disability inclusive development and disability data, where are we now? There is good news. Disability data is getting more and more mainstream than it ever was. DPI welcomes the setting up of the Inter-Agency Expert Group on Disability Statistics and feels that this would further encourage countries and multi-lateral agencies to collect data on disability. Having said that, there are still areas of concern among the grassroots DPOs.

Despite the trend of a gradual convergence of measurement tools and standards at the global level, there still exists tremendous duplicity of work. This creates further confusion at the grassroots. As has been mentioned in this meeting before, the pressure is on National Statistical Offices (NSOs). The confusion at the global level makes advocacy with NSOs even harder for grassroots DPOs as most of these offices are already averse to collecting disability data or even disability based disaggregation of existing data.

The other issue is that disability inclusive development is still largely seen as a global discourse. Particularly for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) DPOs at the grassroots are still unsure of their role, partly because clarity has still not evolved at the global level. And this knowledge gap between the grassroots and the global level needs has to be bridged to create more ownership. After all, the advocacy to implement disability inclusive development will be led by these DPOs. The lack of capacity of grassroots DPOs affects the preparedness of Global South countries to collect disability data. A study conducted by the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs (G3ict) and DPI, involving 100+ countries of which 84 were from the Global South, revealed that 78 percent (or 64 out the 84 countries) did not collect any data on disability related to the SDGs. Of the 20 countries that did collect data, they did so only for a subset of four of the SDGs - i.e. Goal 4-Education, Goal 8-Employment, Goal 11-Inclusive Cities, and Goal 17 Means of Implementation. Even within this subset not all 20 countries have data on all four. For example, only 10 out of the 20 countries collected data on education, and only 6 out of the 20 collected data on employment, and so on.

What has been DPI’s experience and what is the road ahead for us? At the 9th DPI World Assembly in New Delhi we had a session on disability data and the SDGs. The resonating view among the participants at the Assembly was that people at the grassroots are still getting around to understanding the SDGs. But a majority of them, if not all, are working on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). DPI members, who are also the national umbrella DPOs of these countries, emphasised that CRPD and the SDGs are not mutually exclusive of each other. In fact, they reinforce each other. SDGs must, therefore, be part of the CRPD related activities that are ongoing at the grassroots. There is still tremendous work to be done at the grassroots and a need for greater cohesion even within the disability movement, particularly among global DPOs.

The Delhi Declaration adopted at the end of the 9th DPI World Assembly highlighted these points, particularly connecting SDGs and the CRPD, and ensuring disability data. The Delhi Declaration called for a disability data revolution led by governments and international agencies and DPOs by developing and promoting standardised tools and methodologies and capacity building of relevant actors which will catalyse not just disability based data disaggregation but also lead to reliability and comparability of the data.

In conclusion, DPI reiterates its commitment towards disability inclusive development and particularly to the work of this network. DPI would be privileged to support this network as best as it can, particularly as a bridge between the mechanisms at the global level and the grassroots where it enjoys an expansive reach.

Thank you