Join our Equal World campaign
for an end to discrimination
Around the world, there are one billion people with disabilities. Many are routinely denied their rights to education, employment, health care and political participation, and during the COVID-19 pandemic this inequality has only increased. The Equal World campaign exists to call for disability rights to be upheld worldwide.
Before the pandemic, as many as 33 million children with disabilities were out of school. With major global meetings being held in June and July, we’re calling on world leaders to take action to address this and make sure all children with disabilities, particularly girls, can access their right to education.
Disability discrimination affects millions of people around the world. But this is not an inevitable situation – together, we can change it.
‘All children are equal before the law. No child must be excluded’
Sightsavers’ video statement was delivered as part of the annual disability conference in New York. It called for disability rights to be upheld in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sightsavers calls for equity and inclusion in statement to UN disability conference
Sightsavers has delivered a video statement calling for disability rights to be upheld in the global pandemic response, as part of the 14th Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) being held this week in New York.
In the statement, Sightsavers’ head of policy Hannah Loryman called on the global community to uphold the CRPD in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying: “COVID-19 brought to the forefront what we already knew – that progress on disability rights has been too slow. That exclusion is still built into the systems which impact on everyone’s ability to live a fulfilled and independent life. And this exclusion is made is even more severe in times of crisis.”
Loryman also highlighted the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities – particularly women and other groups of people who face intersecting forms of discrimination. She emphasised the need for better disability data, as well as robust planning and budgeting for inclusion, and reiterated the call of Sightsavers’ Equal World campaign for inclusive education for children with disabilities to be available, accessible and adequately funded.
Watch the video to see the statement, or read the full statement below.
I am speaking today on behalf of Sightsavers, an international organisation working to promote disability rights in around 30 countries globally.
Can I first of all congratulate all the new members of the CRPD committee. Through Sightsavers’ Equal World campaign we made the case for gender balance on the committee and we welcome that gender parity has now not only been achieved but now exceeded.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been unequally felt. Existing inequities and the lack of inclusive responses mean that the impact on persons with disabilities has been disproportionate. This is particularly the case for people who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination.
Women with disabilities have told us about the fear and uncertainty they have experienced, the lack of access services and increases in violence. One woman told us that, “This virus has changed us all. We are still wondering what will happen in the future.”
As we look towards this future, States Parties have a responsibility to make sure that they secure one which is equitable and inclusive of persons with disabilities.
COVID-19 brought to the forefront what we already knew – that progress on disability rights has been too slow. That exclusion is still built into the systems which impact on everyone’s ability to live a fulfilled and independent life. And this exclusion is made is even more severe in times of crisis.
Governments must ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities are systematically embedded into COVID-19 recovery plans – to make systems more inclusive now and future periods of crisis. It is critical that better data is collected, that policies are put in place – and that these include robust implementation plans and budgets which actually shift away from old models of exclusion. This must be done in proper co-production with organisations of persons with disabilities, in line with article 4.3 of the CPRD.
The United Nations, supported by members states, must ensure that the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy (UNDIS) is fully and systematically implemented. The Secretary-General highlighted that the lack of resources for UNDIS risk its implementation, and member states must take concrete steps to address this.
We welcome the focus on education at this year’s Conference of States Parties. The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated an already existing learning crisis. Through Sightsavers’ Equal World campaign, we are calling on world leaders to invest in inclusive education. With the right education children with disabilities can not only learn, but also find and raise their voices and have choice and control over their lives. This will be a crucial part of an inclusive recovery.
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What we're calling for
- The rights of people with disabilities to be upheld
- Governments and organisations to show leadership on disability inclusion
- People with disabilities to have a voice in the decisions that affect their lives
- The UN and world leaders to be held accountable for putting inclusive policies into action
Together we can end disability discrimination
The UN has published a disability strategy, committing to the full inclusion and active participation of people with disabilities in all its work. We need to make sure that it translates from words to action, and results in the UN’s member states making real improvements in the lives of people with disabilities around the world.
We’re taking action for disability rights in countries around the world, from Bangladesh to Uganda. Find out more by choosing a country from the dropdown list below.
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