Click here for search results

Disability and the Millennium Development Goals

“Now we must take concrete steps to transform the vision of the Convention into real victories on the ground. We must deliver development that is truly for all”

 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

"People with disabilities are also people with extraordinary talent. Yet they are too often forgotten. When people with disabilities are denied opportunities, they are more likely to fall into poverty -- and people living in conditions of poverty are more likely to develop disabilities. As long as societies exclude those with disabilities, they will not reach their full potential and the poor in particular will be denied opportunities that they deserve. I'm proud of the work we have done so far to create opportunities for disabled people to contribute fully to their communities. But we cannot achieve these goals alone. We must work closely with our development partners to remove the barriers that exclude disabled people and ensure equality of opportunity for every member of society."

Former World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz

"Unless disabled people are brought into the development mainstream, it will be impossible to cut poverty in half by 2015 or to give every girl and boy the chance to achieve a primary education by the same date which are key among the Millennium Development Goals agreed to by more than 180 world leaders at the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000."

Former World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn
Washington Post December 3, 2002

In 2000, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were born from the Millennium Declaration, which was an unprecedented global consensus to improve the condition of humanity throughout the world. Today the MDG’s are seen as the centerpiece of the development agenda. Notwithstanding the breadth and the scope of the MDGs, persons with disabilities continue to experience inequalities that are closely intertwined to all the development challenges linked to the MDGs. Disability remains as both a cause and consequence of poverty. Reaching the Millennium Development Goals is unlikely to be achieved unless the rights and needs of persons with disabilities are considered in the process of development.

Number 1 Eradicate Hunger and Poverty

Disability and poverty are intertwined. In fact, the qualitative evident suggests that disabled people are significantly poor in developing countries, and more so than non-disabled counterpart. Many persons with disabilities are denied education or jobs, the disorder may require chronic health care and these in turn drain the scarce household resources. Persons with disabilities make up as much as 1/5 of the world’s poor. Malnutrition can result in a number of disabilities, such as stunting, blindness, and diabetes.

Number 2Achieve Primary Universal Education

40 million of the 115 million children not attending primary school in developing countries have disabilities. Very often, children with disabilities are not recognized, get frustrated with school and drop out. In the US, it has been found that the majority of children who repeat classes or drop out of school have emotional or intellectual disabilities. This in turn makes it impossible to achieve the goal of Universal Primary Education unless the health aspects are taken into account.

Number 3Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

Disabled women are more likely to be victims of sexual abuse. Violence against women causes psychological disabilities, and some disabilities, such as obstetric fistula, are particularly stigmatizing. Women and girls are also responsible for providing care to family members with disabilities. A dearth of community access and services for persons with disabilities may prevent the women and girls from taking advantage of school and work opportunities.

Number 4Reduce Child Mortality

Children with disabilities at higher risk of dying because of medical conditions, but also because of lack of access to public services, and intense stigma – even within their own homes. Early detection, treatment and education may increase survival rates and minimize the consequences of disability later in life.

Number 5Improve Maternal Health

Disabled women have less access to public health information and they are often at higher risk of violence and sexual assault, placing them at greater risk of unwanted pregnancies and HIV/AIDS. Women with disabilities may have a greater risk of forced sterilization. Pregnancy, especially in girls and young women may result in disabling conditions.

Number 6Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases

AIDS and other contagious diseases can, in and of themselves, be disabling. However, most significantly, efforts to halt these epidemics frequently do not encompass disabled people, putting disabled people at higher risk of contracting these diseases.

Number 7Ensure Environmental Sustainability

Environmental dangers can lead to the onset of many types of disabilities. For instance, some pollutants can lead to a number of disabilities. Road design can have a tremendous impact on the safety of pedestrians, potentially preventing road crashes that can lead to disabilities and protecting persons with disabilities from being involved in accidents. Inaccessible environments prevent persons with disabilities from taking part in economic and social activities. The cost to retrofit environments is higher and the outcome less satisfactory, than when environments are designed, constructed and maintained for all users. Consideration of environmental factors and disability are particularly important when addressing urban design and in rapidly aging societies.

Number 8Develop a Global Partnership for Development

A partnership implies inclusion, which means everyone.
Learn about the Global Partnership for Disability and Development Link to external site

Back to Top

Last updated: 2009-08-20

Permanent URL for this page: