Disability is not a niche issue: it is a mainstream issue requiring a mainstream response - Dr. Mary Keogh

30 june 2017

Today we're featuring a guest blog by Dr. Mary Keogh, CBM Ireland, on behalf of the Dóchas Disability in International Development Working Group.

On Tuesday 27 June, the Dóchas Disability in International Development Working Group presented at a meeting in Leinster House organised by the Irish branch of the European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA). The meeting was co-chaired by Maureen O’Sullivan TD and Senator John Dolan. Panellists included representatives from Sightsavers, Oxfam, Trócaire, Plan and myself, representing CBM.

We discussed global issues of importance for disability inclusive development such as the need for disaggregated data on disability, as highlighted by Catrina Sheridan from SightSavers. Oxfam, Trócaire and Plan provided case studies of the work they are doing in different African countries.

Highlights included:

  • Ireland can learn from many African countries which have already ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) - Enida Friel from Oxfam Ireland

  • In seeking to target the poor and most vulnerable, development has to include people with disabilities - Bradley Clark from Trócaire

  • Children with disabilities are 10 times more likely to be out of school in West Africa. Working with local disabled people’s organisations is crucial to reaching these children – Aidan Leavy from Plan International Ireland

I concluded the panel discussion with our key asks for the Irish government. These are:

  • The need to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as a matter of urgency.

  • The need for the government to continue to progress its commitments to include women, men, girls and boys with disabilities in Ireland’s Official Development Assistance programmes.

Professor Robert Gilligan and Dr Rachel Hoare also presented on their forthcoming research from a Trinity College Dublin and Plan International initiative on “Gender Disparities and Disability: Identifying barriers for inclusion of girls with disabilities in Togo.” Sylvia Katete Gavigan, Honorary Consul of Uganda to Ireland, then gave a perspective on disability in Uganda.

We were very happy to have Minister Ciarán Cannon, newly appointed Minister with responsibility for International Development and Finian McGrath, Minister with responsibility for disability issues in the audience. Both Ministers were welcomed and each gave a response.

Minister Cannon, highlighted how once people with disabilities are empowered, they empower others and that education is key to this. He also discussed the importance of achieving the SDGs and that we leave no-one behind. Minister McGrath gave a commitment that the CRPD would be ratified by the end of 2017.

The Dóchas Disability in International Development Working Group would like to thank AWEPA for this opportunity to present and look forward to future collaboration.

To find out more about the work being done by the Dóchas Disability in International Development Working Group, please click here.