Jahanara Begum, 35, photographed outside her home in Narsingdi, Bangladesh. Jahanara has been blind since birth.

Jahanara sat at a table with a man and a woman. She is reading from a braille book.

Photo © Sightsavers/Tommy Trenchard

Global Disability Summit 2022: 10 things you need to know

We’ve started our countdown to the 2022 Global Disability Summit! Here are 10 things you need to know about the event, why it matters and what needs to come out of it:

1. It’s a vital opportunity to take action for disability rights  

The Global Disability Summit (GDS) will highlight the need for progress on inclusive global development for people with disabilities living in low and middle income countries. We’re using the event to call for urgent action on disability rights, and we need your support. Sign our petition now

2. Its purpose is to make progress towards a more disability-inclusive world 

The GDS aims to raise global attention and focus on inclusive development, strengthen engagement between organisations of people with disabilities and governments, lead to targeted, concrete commitments on disability inclusion and showcase effective examples of disability-inclusive development from around the world. Find out more

3. It’s happening in Oslo, Norway in February 2022

Hosted by the government of Norway in partnership with the government of Ghana and the International Disability Alliance, the Global Disability Summit (GDS) will be held between 15-17 February 2022. It will be a mostly-virtual event. 

4. It’s only the second Global Disability Summit ever held 

The first Global Disability Summit (held in 2018) was a pivotal moment for disability rights around the world. Hundreds of commitments to disability-inclusive development were made, but many lacked sufficient financing, were too vague, or failed to ensure the rights of specific groups (for example, women and girls) were taken into account. The second summit needs to address these failings to avoid repeating them.  

5. It will be attended by governments and global organisations 

171 national governments, multilateral agencies, donors, foundations, private sector and civil society organisations attended the 2018 summit – and this time around it’s likely to be even bigger, so it’s a huge opportunity to reach global decision-makers and urge them to do more. 

6. It needs to raise awareness and understanding of disability and development 

Disability inclusion remains a neglected area of global development. Just 6% of official development assistance is disability inclusive, and although many governments and global organisations have put disability policies and strategies in place, they’re often not properly resourced or put into practice. We need to get the message across that words are not enough when it comes to inclusive development: actions speak louder.

7. It won’t be meaningful unless people with disabilities are heard 

Participation of and consultation with people with disabilities and their representative organisations is crucial if the summit is to be effective and result in meaningful change. We’re calling for governments to ensure they are listening to what people with disabilities in their countries are telling them, and taking it into account when making development decisions.

8. It’s happening against a backdrop of increased inequality 

Between the last GDS and this one, the COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed a human development crisis that has yet to completely unfold or be understood. What we do know is that the effects of the crisis are unequally distributed, and people who have already been marginalised on the grounds of disability or gender have been disproportionately affected. This makes the need for action all the more urgent, so that the progress made in recent years isn’t undone.

9. It could shape the future – for good or ill 

If governments and global organisations use the opportunity of the summit to make ambitious commitments, backed up by proper financing, it could be a gamechanger for progress on disability rights. We can’t allow it to result in more words without action. Listen to Equal World campaign manager Ross McMullan talking more about the summit on the RNIB Conversations podcast:

10. You can help make it a success

There are lots of ways you can get involved to help reach the widest possible audience and spread the word about the summit – from signing our petition, to sharing stories on social media, to signing up for supporter emails. Find all the details on our take action page.

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