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Equal World ambassador puts disability rights on the agenda

December 2023

In May 2024, civil society partners will come together at the Civil Society Conference in Nairobi, Kenya to discuss engagement in the upcoming Summit for the Future, a key global event at which countries will decide how they will keep the SDG promise to leave no one behind.

Equal World campaign ambassador Abia Akram recently attended the UN’s consultation session on the running of the conference and has called on the facilitators to ensure that disability inclusion is a priority for all participants.

You can watch the full session on UN Web TV.

Read her full statement below:

“Co-facilitators, thank you for this important opportunity for civil society to engage in this virtual consultation on the Pact for the Future.

“The Pact for the Future is our chance to put the SDG Summit political declaration into action – we cannot miss this opportunity.

“Before the SDG Summit, Sightsavers’ Equal World campaign, of which I am a global ambassador, called on member states to recognise that the promise to leave no one behind is in peril. We emphasised the need for a disability-inclusive rescue plan to get the goals back on track.

“At the summit, we welcomed member states’ recommitment to leave no one behind, and to reach the furthest behind first. We also welcomed the commitment to ensure that the world’s 1.3 billion persons with disabilities ‘actively participate in and equally benefit from sustainable development efforts’.

“Now, it’s time for those commitments to become action.

“Among those left furthest behind are young people with disabilities, particularly women and girls. Their voices are too often ignored in the decisions that affect their lives. They bring lived experience and a true understanding of the barriers that need addressing to reduce global inequality. Their participation and input are essential.

“Unless member states engage and consult with young people with disabilities, the promise to leave no one behind will no longer be ‘in peril’ – it will have failed. And if that promise fails, the goals will fail too.

“My question to member states is: How will you make sure that the Pact for the Future leads to global change that is tangible, lasting, and above all, achievable?

“I urge member states to listen to and learn from the lived experience and expertise of young people with disabilities. Open space for meaningful engagement so we can find the solutions that are needed. Let’s work together to ensure the Pact for the Future delivers the promises made in the SDG Summit Political Declaration. Let’s realise the promise to ‘leave no one behind’ and create an equal world together.”

A man and a woman cuddle a young baby on their laps.

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