Photo: Bond

DFID pledges to put disability at heart of its work

7 December 2017

Globally one billion people have a disability. People with disabilities are often amongst the most excluded and discriminated against in any society, and face significant barriers in accessing services and realising their rights. 

People with disabilities are often excluded from development programmes, frameworks and policies. Due to the lack of data that is collected on disability, the extent of this exclusion is often not clear. 

This is beginning to change. Global frameworks, such as Agenda 2030, now include people with disabilities and the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities has been ratified by 175 countries worldwide. At the national level, we are increasingly seeing the development of policies that include people with disabilities. 

The UK Department for International Development (DFID) is one of the organisations at the forefront of this change. DFID published its first Disability Framework in 2014, which set out how it would systematically include people with disabilities in its work. This was followed by a commitment in the Bilateral Development Review to become “the global leader in the neglected and under-prioritised area.” 

Although a lot still needs to change before people with disabilities systematically benefit from DFID’s and its partners development policies and programmes, we have been pleased with the progress that DFID has made towards embedding disability inclusion across the organisation. 

Last week the Bond Disability and Development Group hosted an event for International Day of Persons with Disabilities with DFID and Microsoft. Penny Mordaunt, the new secretary of state for international development, reaffirmed this commitment, stating that “we will put disability at the heart of everything that we do.”

The secretary of state also announced that DFID would be hosting a global disability summit next year, which will be co-hosted with the International Disability Alliance. 

We welcome this announcement, and the leadership that the UK is showing by hosting this global summit. 

The summit is an opportunity to catalyse real and systemic change at a national and global level. We want national governments and development organisations to make ambitious political and financial commitments – and put in place a clear mechanism measuring progress against them. 

We look forward to working with DFID and the International Disability Alliance in the run up to the summit – and beyond. The summit is a vital next step in the journey towards disability inclusion. What happens after the summit, to put it all into practice, will be just as important. 

You can join the Disability and Development Group here, and see all the Bond groups here.

About the author

Tamsin Langford

Tamsin Langford is head of programmes at Motivation, where she oversees all of the international projects.

Lucy Drescher

As Head of Parliamentary Advocacy at RESULTS UK, Lucy leads the organisation's engagement with the UK parliament. She has also worked for Sense International. Lucy is co-chair of the Bond Disability and Development Group.

Headshot of Hannah Loryman

Hannah Loryman is policy adviser - social inclusion and education at Sightsavers.