LibLink…Lynne Featherstone: The disabled people hidden from view

Liberal Democrat international development minister Lynne Featherstone has written an article in the Sunday Times about the plight of disabled people in developing countries, and how they often don’t receive much needed aid.

But for every medal-winning athlete, there are millions more in the developing world who are treated as sub-human, hidden from view and forgotten. Millions of women who are raped and beaten because they are discriminated against or physically incapable of escaping their attackers. Millions of children denied an education because they can’t see their textbooks, hear their teachers or get to school. And millions of people locked out of jobs because in the race for employment only the fittest survive. These people weren’t cheered or celebrated during the hype of last summer. They are trapped – and often physically imprisoned and chained – because their societies can’t be bothered with them.

She said that disabled people often didn’t receive aid:

The awful truth is the aid community has also in large part forgotten disabled people. I do not know whether it is because it is too hard or other priorities win the day. But we all must do as we would be done by.

And women and girls often find that their disability makes them more vulnerable to violence and rape:

Over one billion people – 15% of the global population – have a disability and there is a direct link between disability and poverty. Indeed, disability has a greater impact on access to education than gender or household economic status. Almost 90 per cent of children living with disabilities in Africa do not regularly attend schools.

Shockingly, disabled people are often excluded from sexual, reproductive and neonatal healthcare, including HIV/AIDS prevention, as it is (naively) assumed they are not sexually active so not at risk of infection. Consider this too: women and girls with disabilities are more likely to experience violence and are less likely to access health services or employment opportunities. This is intolerable.

So, what’s she going to do about it?

As a minister in the Department for International Development, I am proud that we have a good track record on disability. DFID was the first bilateral donor to develop an issue paper on disability in 2000 and has commissioned important research to help address the evidence gaps around disability. So we have a pretty good idea about what to do and how to do it.

But what is abundantly clear is we can do more. Otherwise our proud Paralympic legacy is under threat. Last summer the Paralympics captivated this country and the world, and we cannot let that spirit fade away. This is why I have invited organisations like Comic Relief, Sightsavers and ADD International to advise DFID on how we could improve our programmes and consider disability more systemically.

You can read the whole article here (£).

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2 Comments

  • I don’t believe dfid are doing enough to make sure money disbursed as aid is being given to those in need on a non-discriminatory basis.

    A number of african countries have not yet signed nor ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

  • A Social Liberal 31st May '13 - 3:12am

    SFK

    According to the The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights we are not so hot on it ourselves. Indeed, Mary Miller, the then Minister of Disabled People described the UNCRPD as soft law.

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