Six SDGs and why they matter for persons with disabilities

Happy New Year! In 2017, we, as advocates for the rights of persons with disabilities in CBM, will continue to engage in the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) nationally, regionally, and globally. Therefore, it is good to revisit why the SDGs are important for an inclusive society to truly leave no one behind. Please continue reading for some brief highlights on six of the Goals (5, 6, 10, 11, 16, and 17) and why they are important for persons with disabilities.

Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls is imperative due to the multiple barriers and exclusion that women and girls with disabilities experience. Up to 20 per cent of women globally have a disability[1] and women and girls with disabilities encounter triple discrimination: being female, having a disability, and being among the poorest of the poor.[2] Women and girls with disabilities have additional barriers compared to men with disabilities and women without disabilities. This includes exclusion from participating in a sustainable and inclusive economy, an increased risk of violence and abuse, lack of access to justice, minimal participation in political and public life, and prejudice and discriminatory attitudes in sexual health, reproductive rights and in the right to family life.

Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all is important since 884 million people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water. Assuming this group of people is the poorest of the poor, at least 177 million are likely to be persons with disabilities (20 per cent of poorest)[3], thus affecting a significant population of the world. Unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation, and insufficient hygiene practices, and inadequate disposal of human and animal waste have major health implications including causing Neglected Tropical Diseases amongst others.

Access to safe and affordable water and sanitation facilities greatly benefit persons with disabilities and their families, improving nutrition and preventing death and diseases; reducing poverty and promoting socioeconomic development; labor saving; reducing hazards; and increasing dignity, self-reliance and independence.[4] [5] Sustainable development can only be achieved if it includes measures to prevent discrimination based on disability and ensures equal access to clean water and sanitation facilities, fulfilling the right to an adequate standard of living. Click here for more on this topic.

Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries

An inclusive and equal society is more likely to be sustainable. Having better access to quality education and health services, housing and clean water, land, financing and judicial recourse means that persons with disabilities can become better equipped to contribute to economic growth, and participate on an equal basis in society.

Disability-inclusive development involves the meaningful participation and inclusion of all community members (including persons with disabilities, women, Indigenous Peoples, older persons, children and youth, and ethnic minorities in rural and urban areas). To ensure inclusive development, donors and agencies must prioritise planning and reporting systems that explicitly capture the participation of, and outcomes for, traditionally marginalized groups. Disability-inclusive development is both a goal and a process, which occurs when the entire community, including persons with disabilities, benefit equally from development processes.

Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable is quite important as this significantly affects persons with disabilities. According to the World Health Organization and the World Bank, 15 per cent of the world’s population has a disability and by 2050, 6.25 billion people will live in urban centers. If these estimates remain, it means that by 2050 nearly one billion urban dwellers will be persons with disabilities.

With the development and enforcement of accessibility standards, new transportation systems, pedestrian pathways, and information systems, persons with disabilities could have access to urban areas without assistance at unprecedented levels.  Furthermore, non-discrimination policies protecting the rights of persons with disabilities are needed to ensure right to housing and to stop exclusionary housing policies. For more information on this topic, read the World Enabled and CBM publication “The Inclusion Imperative: Towards Disability-inclusive and Accessible Urban Development.”

Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Given that one in five people in developing countries has a disability[6], it is vital that inclusive governance practices are promoted, which actively encourage the participation of persons with disabilities at all levels of the democratic process. Both the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights require this, and governance systems that do not represent the views of 15 per cent of their population with disabilities are falling short of their international obligations and not adhering to the principles of good governance. The CRPD has several Articles related to governance and political participation, including: Article 13, access to justice; Article 21, the right to freedom of expression and access to information; and Article 29, the right of persons with disabilities to participate in political and public life. Persons with disabilities must have equal opportunities to participate and be represented in political, social and economic processes for a truly inclusive society.

Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development

Goal 17 and the 2030 Agenda transform the traditional vision of partnerships and highlight the significant role of stakeholders and multi-stakeholder partnerships – including persons with disabilities – to share information, expertise, and resources in order to achieve the SDGs. This notion is in line with CRPD Articles 4.3 and 32 and the core theme of the disability movement “Nothing about us, without us.” Partnerships provide the space for persons with disabilities and their representative organizations to have meaningful representation as well as to ensure that the challenges faced by persons with disabilities are accounted for and met in the implementation of the SDGs.

References

[1] Heinicke-Motsch, K. & Sygall, S. (2004). Building an Inclusive Disability Community: A manual on including people with a disability in international development projects. Mobility International USA.

[2] United Nations Population Fund. (2005). Promoting Gender Equality. Retrieved from http://www.unfpa.org/gender/

[3] http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/MDG_FS_7_EN.pdf (see World Health Organization and World Bank (2011) World Report on Disability.  Geneva: WHO Press).

[4] Jones, H. (2013). Mainstreaming disability and ageing in water, sanitation and hygiene programmes. WaterAid UK.

[5] Jones, H. & Reed, B. (2005). Water and sanitation for disabled people and other vulnerable groups: Designing services to improve accessibility. WEDC. Loughorough: UK. (book). https://wedc-knowledge.lboro.ac.uk/details.html?id=16357

[6] World Bank.  Disability and Poverty: A Survey of World Bank and Poverty Assessments and Implications’.  Jeanine Bratihwaite and Daniel Mont, SP discussion paper No. 0805, World Bank, February 2008.