In full: Baroness Northover’s speech to launch the DFID disability framework

Lindsay NorthoverBaroness Northover is parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for International Development. Here is the speech she made today, in the Houses of Parliament, to launch the DFID disabilty framework:

I’m delighted to be here with you today, to celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Although the UK Department for International Development and many of you in this room have been increasingly focused on disability inclusion in recent years, it is now that we are really beginning to see this issue get the attention it deserves.

As the minister responsible for disability in DFID, I am personally committed to ensuring that the UK continues to play its part…

…that we continue the momentum…

…and that this results in a dramatic improvement for the lives of people with disabilities.

I am also going to ensure that we consider the links between disability and ageing.

An ageing population means that many more people are going to experience health conditions that lead to disability.

We have already made considerable progress on disability inclusion in our work in recent years.

This includes funding a wide range of programmes on disability in many countries, and with many civil society organisations.

We are working on world class research and new commitments on making schools accessible for children with disabilities.

We are ensuring data is disaggregated, and we are improving how we respond to humanitarian crises.

These are commitments that DFID made under my predecessor the Rt Hon Lynne Featherstone MP, and I really must pause here to pay tribute to her incredible efforts over the last year and a half to push this issue right up the development agenda.

Inspired by the London Paralympics – and the decades’ long disability rights movement that led up to those Games – Lynne’s commitment to this issue is part and parcel of our party’s dedication to equality.

I also pay tribute to the DFID staff who work on disability – a growing team as we have significantly increased our staffing on disability, and appointed a senior managerial champion – Beverley, who is here today.

We know, however, that while we are making some progress….

…there is more we could – and should – be doing systematically to include people with disabilities in our programme and policy work.

The recent International Development Committee inquiry on disability was a welcome addition to this important policy debate and helpfully suggested what more DFID could do. And I understand from the Committee that this inquiry receive more external evidence than any other inquiry in the committee’s history. I would like to thank the Committee, and also many of you who were engaged in the process and provided an incredible breadth and depth of evidence to support the inquiry.

The Committee recognised our strong work on disability to date and said a more ambitious response from DFID would transform the lives of people with disabilities…

Not only through our own direct work, but also through working with, and seeking to influence, our partners. We agree.

And so I am very proud to announce that the celebrations today mark an important milestone for DFID.

Because today we are launching our new disability framework.

We have developed this not only to set ourselves an ambitious goal, but also an honest one.

Inclusion is a complex area…..

…and we don’t always know what works.

We haven’t promised to do anything that we don’t believe we can deliver.

The framework outlines the actions we are taking over the next 12 months.

Actions that we have the capacity to deliver, that will make a difference, and that we can learn from.

And as we also mark the 16 days of action campaign, I’d like to draw attention to the particular risk of violence faced by women and girls with disabilities.

This is often further exacerbated in times of humanitarian emergency and conflict.

As you’ll see in the framework, this will be an important area of work for us.

So, the actions we’ve outlined in the framework will form the foundations for our future work.

We will review, revise and make publicly available the framework annually.

To do this we will consult with organisations from the disability sector.

We will base future work on what is working and what isn’t.

What the evidence and research, and our staff, are telling us.

And where we have new opportunities.

So I want to reiterate that this Framework is a living document. As we learn, we will improve. I want to lock in inclusive development for good, and I urge everyone here today to stay engaged, input into the annual reviews and keep DFID on our toes!

But DFID’s improvements are only part of the solution. Reaching and including people with disabilities is a global challenge and it needs a global partnership to tackle it.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) produced some extraordinary results for many people in many countries.

These goals focused and coordinated our development efforts.

But we can see that progress has been very uneven.

People with disabilities were not mentioned in the MDGs, and all too often have remained locked out – lacking economic opportunities and access to key services, and finding themselves socially isolated.

Women and girls with disabilities often suffer multiple forms of discrimination and are extremely vulnerable. Indeed, millions of disabled women are raped and beaten because they are discriminated against or physically incapable of escaping their attackers.

It’s imperative we address this, as we reflect on lessons from the MDGs and work on the successor goals.

We believe our generation can eradicate poverty for good…

…but only by ensuring that the next set of goals incorporates equity and inclusion….

…to ensure that, this time – regardless of ethnicity, gender, geography, race, disability or other status –we leave no one behind.

The next year will be critical, and we have a collective duty to ensure that the agreement finalised by world leaders next September is truly transformative.

To drive action, the final set of goals and targets must be a short, comprehensible and inspiring set of actions which truly integrates environmentally sustainable development.

And all countries must be able to manage, measure and implement these goals.

And for the next goals to truly incorporate the principles of equity and inclusion…

… we believe that it is critical that they are all underpinned the powerful principle of ‘leave no one behind’…

…and that across the post-2015 framework no target should be considered met unless it’s met by everyone.

But we won’t know how we’re doing without data.

Disaggregating data by income, gender, age and disability will enable us to monitor the progress of all people and help us to ensure that the post-2015 framework reaches everyone.

The UK supports the call for a data revolution to enable this.

Data matter for disability.

At the moment we can’t see the scale of the issues: where we’re succeeding and who we’re leaving behind. Put simply, many of the world’s poorest people with disabilities just aren’t counted.

And too often what evidence there is gets ignored.

This needs to change.

Collectively we need to gather better data and we need to use it to develop better policies and programmes and to measure progress.

So we were delighted last month to co-host an international conference on strengthening disability data with UN DESA and Leonard Cheshire Disability as the beginning of our work to improve data.

We’re in the crucial last year of negotiations on the post-2015 framework.

We need to work together to keep the principle of ‘leave no one behind’ high up the agenda, and make it a reality. None of us can afford to be complacent.

The disability movement itself needs to have a stronger voice in national and international policy platforms, particularly in developing countries – and we should all support this.

If we can do all of this then we have reached a turning point for people with disabilities – a watershed moment.

DFID is raising its ambition.

We’re going to play our part.

We need everyone to rise to the challenge and ensure we work on this together.

Thank you.

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