Including Everybody: Website on Disability and MDGs Launched

Posted on 26 September 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Children, Cross-Disability, Education, Health, HIV/AIDS, Inclusion, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), News, Opinion, Policy & Legislation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
End poverty and hunger. Put all children in school. Empower women. Stop children from dying. Keep pregnant and birthing mothers healthy. Fight AIDS, malaria, and other disease. Create a sustainable environment. And promote global cooperation. These are the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)–an important set of goals agreed upon by key leaders and heads of state from around the world in September 2000. No, they don’t mention people with disabilities at all–and I will come back to this point in a few paragraphs. Or you can ignore me and go straight to the new website on disability and the MDGs. But in theory, the MDGs are meant to help everyone.

Each goal has a set of specific targets to be achieved, most with the deadline set for 2015. For example, the poverty goal includes a target to cut the number of people living on less than $1 a day in half by 2015. And the goal on child mortality includes a target to cut the child mortality rate by two-thirds among children below age 5. Many country governments, multi-lateral development banks, international development organizations, and donors have invested billions of dollars into projects meant to help more countries and regions meet the Millennium Development Goals.

What has the results been? Mixed. Some of the goals, such as the targets for reducing poverty and hunger, or in putting all children in primary school, have been met–and exceeded in many countries particularly in eastern Asia. Progress in southern Asia has helped also. But many countries in sub-Saharan Africa lag far behind in meeting many of the MDGs.

You can read more about the overall progress–or lack of it–at Or if you only want to look up the progress in the country where you live, work, or care about the most, go to

People with Disabilities and the MDGs
But what about people with disabilities? Unfortunately, they have been so invisible that most programs and governments don’t even count them. That means it’s hard to find reliable numbers that measure whether people with disabilities are included–or left behind–in the haphazard progress that has been made toward the MDGs. But, we can make some educated guesses.

For example, what limited numbers do exist estimate that possibly as many as 98% of children with disabilities in some developing countries never go to school. Personally, I doubt this number is universally true. For one thing, there is a great deal of variation from country to country in how proactive they are about finding creative ways to include children with disabilities in school. Read Making Schools Inclusive: How Change Can Happen: Save the Children’s Experience (PDF format, 4.14 Mb) for examples of progress.

Then, there is probably some variation depending on the disability. A child with a relatively mild walking-related disability, for example, might have only minor difficulty reaching school if it is not too far. Or a child with undiagnosed and unaccommodated dyslexia might sometimes make it through a few years of school, and even learn a little, before they quit in frustration.

But if that 98% figure is anywhere close to the mark, then it is safe to say that the MDG target on universal primary education has failed disabled children miserably. We do know that they are very disproportionately left behind: the UK Department of International Development (DFID) says that one-third of the 72 million children who are out of school have disabilities, even though people with disabilities are only an estimated 10 percent of the world population in general. And this only covers the education-related target of the MDGs; the new website on disability and the MDGs points out gaps in all the rest.

Disability Inclusion is Everyone’s Business
So what’s the answer to this problem? A thorough response to this question would fill a book. One thing, however, is clear: It will not be resolved by any one government or organization working in isolation. And it certainly will not happen if resource-strapped disability-oriented organizations are left to tackle the problem alone. It will take many governments, agencies, and organizations working together–including those that do not normally specialize in disability issues. In short, everybody who is doing anything to address the MDGs needs to identify better ways to include people with disabilities in the work they’re already doing.

This begins by increasing everyone’s awareness of the complex relationship between disability and the MDGs. By “everyone” I mean both disability advocates (so they can help advocate the issue) and also mainstream international development professionals (so they can find ways to ensure their programs are not inadvertently leaving disabled people behind). Either way, you can start learning at the new website on disability and the Millennium Development Goals, Include Everybody, at:

What Do I Think of “Include Everybody”?
When you consider that this website is brand new, I think it makes an excellent start at covering the issues. In the long run, as with any new endeavor, I see room for them to expand. For example, their page on achieving universal primary school education or the page on promoting gender equality and empowering women could usefully link to publications such as Education for All: a gender and disability perspective (PDF format, 151 Kb). Or their page on combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases could link to the on-line global survey on disability and HIV/AIDS.

They also could consider eventually developing a one to two page, attractive looking, factsheet on disability and the MDGs that advocates could print out and disseminate when educating others about the topic. They also could consider developing a similarly attractive, one-page factsheet for each of the MDGs individually. The latter could be useful, for example, for passing along to a specialist who only wants to read the information on child mortality without also having to wade through a lot of detail on environmental sustainability. Or vice versa.

But, for now, this web site is a good place to start learning.

The Include Everybody website has been publicized in several different locations by now, including the GPDD mailing list, the Intl-Dev mailing list, Joan Durocher’s mailing list, and others.

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NEWS: Women with Disabilities in Pakistan Hold Empowerment Seminar

Posted on 20 August 2008. Filed under: Cross-Disability, News, South Asian Region, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Thank you to Ghulam Nabi Nizamani for circulating the following report.

Seminar on empowerment of women with disabilities, Karachi – Pakistan
Held on 2nd August 2008.

A joint seminar organized by Social Welfare Department Government of Sindh and Association of Physically Handicapped Adults (APHA) member organization of Sindh Disability Forum (SDF) and Pakistan Disabled Peoples’ Organization (PDPO) DPI Pakistan.

Centuries ago, as you all know, in most societies of the world women occupied a secondary position to their male counterparts. It was a common feature that women got very little opportunity to voice their opinion even in matters, which concerned their own lives. They were considered to have no opinions of their own but merely adhere to the decisions made first by their fathers, then their husbands and at a later stage of their lives by their sons. But society has progressed from the discriminating attitude towards women. This is not to say that even today women stand equal with men. Discrimination against women persists even till date, the only change being that in some situations take place at a more subtle level.

Women’s movements have been instrumental in bringing about this change. These movements attempt to empower and equip women to fight for equality and stand equal with men.

But this is not the case when we turn our attention to women with disabilities. The mainstream women’s movements have remained completely oblivious to the needs of this group. The disability movements too have not paid much attention to the particular needs of disabled women. Hence these women remain at the periphery of all rights movements. Being a neglected segment they lack in self-esteem and self-confidence. They are conceived as not having part to play in society they are role-less people. Thus arises the imperative need to develop the image they have of themselves. Empowerment of disabled women therefore becomes the need of the hour.

1. Ms. Shagufta Shehzadi Chairperson Special Education Department, University of Karachi

2. Ms. Nasreen Aslam Shah Chairperson Women Study Centre University of Karachi

3. Ms. Musarrat Jabeen Women Development Department,Govt. of Sindh

4. Keynote Presentation By M. Zeeshan Taqi Finance Secretary A.P.H.A

5. Mr. S.M Nishat General Secretary A.P.H.A

6. Ms. Shama Dosa Active Social Worker

7. Mr. Shariful Muzaffar President A.P.H.A

8. Mrs. Riaz Fatima.Social Welfare Training Institute

9. Ms. Farzana WWD member of APHA

10. Ghulam Nabi Nizamani DPI Pakistan/Asia Pacific

Speakers highlighted issues related to women with disabilities specially WWDs based in rural areas. They discussed about:

1. Position in the family,

2. Access to education and health care facilities,

3. Opportunities to find employment,

4. Knowledge regarding existing legislation and facilities for disabled people and Women with disabilities.

5. Fulfilling the role generally ascribed to women including mainstreaming of WWDs.

6. Reproductive health of Women with Disabilities.

7. Violence against Women with Disabilities.

Delegates of the seminar recommended that:

  • Self-help groups of disabled women need to be organized. These women are to be made aware of the rights through training in self-advocacy.
  • Media campaign for spreading awareness regarding the rights of the disabled in general and disable women in particular.
  • Creation of Awareness on the Rights of Women with Disabilities according to Article 6 of UN Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities (CRPD).
  • Government to frame policies specifically catering to the interest of women with disabilities.
  • Training for women with disabilities needs to be geared towards developing a positive self-concept and self-image. They are to be empowered to recognize that they too are contributing and responsible members of society.
  • To fill the gape between WWDs of Urban and Rural area.
  • Job quota for WWDs be raised by Government from 2% to 15% because for women without disabilities have 10% quota in Government’s Jobs

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