The Global Goals can be transformative for people with disabilities

Earlier last month I was the first UK Minister to attend the Conference of States Parties (CoSP) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Side events discussed all disabilities and involved personal, first-hand accounts of the exclusion faced, including from those with mental health conditions.

Since the Conference last met, the Sustainable Development Goals have been agreed. For the first time in history, we have a global development framework that says people with disabilities cannot and will not continue to be forgotten — no one should be left behind. These Goals have the potential to be truly transformative for people with disabilities.

But achieving this promise will take more than just words. In many countries, people with disabilities face unacceptable stigma and continue to live in poverty. I met a 14 year old girl, Jahaida Dorival in the Caribbean earlier this year. She has written a truly emotive poem perfectly capturing her experience of living with a disability, included at the end of this blog.

This is the first year of our new global development agenda. And our actions this year will set the tone and pace for the next 15. We all must aim high and do more to unleash the full potential of people with disabilities, like Jahaida. When we aim high, we don’t just see incredible returns for people with disabilities themselves, but also incredible returns for their families, communities, economic situation and countries.

No one should be denied the opportunity to realise their full potential. No one should have their interests systematically overlooked. Tomorrow’s Girls Education Forum and High Level Political Forum are further opportunities to ensure people with disabilities are included.

By working together I believe we can turn the promise of the 2030 development agenda to leave no one behind into a reality.

The Future — Poem from the Caribbean

Jahaida Dorival, 14 years old

The future is bright
I see a great shining light
However, I have to put up a fight
’Cause I’m no longer the cute little girl, way back then
Right now, I’m growing up and of course I’m past ten.
Time waits on no one and it’s coming at me fast
To begin fulfilling the dreams I had in the past
Dreams of becoming the best I can be
To make proud my parents, teachers and community
A scholar, a college graduate then off to university
To study law would be my priority.
So friends, well-wishers and all who love me,
Please support my endeavours and don’t discriminate me.