Imagining a more inclusive world: a new video

Emebet receiving support by way of food items from Almaz, a CBM partner organisation staff member in Ethiopia
Emebet receiving support by way of food items from Almaz, a CBM partner organisation staff member in Ethiopia (CBM Australia)

On International Day of People with Disability, CBM Australia echoes the voices of people with disabilities from across the globe calling for a more inclusive #BetterWorldForAll.

International Day of People with Disability aims to increase public awareness about the rights of people with disabilities and the barriers that prevent them from enjoying their human rights.

To mark the occasion we reflect on what has been an extraordinary and challenging year, in particular for people with disabilities living in low- and middle-income countries. In every sense COVID-19 has been a disaster for global economies, health outcomes and poverty reduction efforts, shining a light on deep flaws that exist within government policies, health and response systems. The human suffering has been severe. And while the pandemic is not yet over, we are presented with an opportunity to discuss and reimagine our world anew – as it could be.

CBM Australia has been championing the voices of people with disabilities for over 30 years, to advocate for more inclusive and equitable societies in our region and globally. Given the catchcry of the development world is to ‘build back better’ following a disaster, CBM asked 14 people with disabilities from across the globe to share their vision of a #BetterWorldForAll on camera.

You can also watch the video with audio description at:

What did they say?

Adrian from Papua New Guinea, a lifelong disability-inclusion advocate, stressed to us that in a #BetterWorldForAll we need to see disability inclusion as an imperative, not an option.

“Inclusion is more than ticking a box, it’s about making sure that people with disabilities are part of the conversation, part of the planning and part of making that world a better place,” Adrian said.

Malik from Pakistan told us it’s a world where everyone is able to participate and enjoy their human rights.

“A world where every person is able to live their life fully and equal – free from stigma and discrimination,” Malik said.

Do we think it’s possible to achieve?

Toyin, former Country Director of CBM Nigeria and disability-inclusion consultant, thinks so.

“Yes, I’m very hopeful, and I think we can see the signs already. Persons with disabilities are getting more prioritised in programmes or services. I strongly believe that we will get there very soon. But, all hands must be on deck,” Toyin said.

She also highlighted the importance of advocacy and continuing to raise the topic of human rights in conversations about inclusion.

“When we talk about disability inclusion, it is everybody’s business. Everybody has to be involved. Nobody should be left out.”

How do we get there?

For those of us in the development and humanitarian sectors, there are steps we can take to include people with disabilities in our work to build a more inclusive #BetterWorldForAll:

  • First, recognise the unique perspectives and contributions people with disabilities can bring as a result of their lived experience.
  • Second, take a rights-based approach and have people with disabilities inform, advise and monitor your inclusion efforts.
  • Third, ensure people with disabilities are included in all COVID-19 response efforts by identifying and removing physical, communication, attitudinal or institutional barriers, and collecting disability disaggregated data to ensure you are reaching everyone equally.
  • Fourth, ensure people with disabilities have priority access to a vaccine when one becomes available.
  • Lastly, advocate for inclusive health and economic systems to ensure they reach the furthest left behind.

Now is the time to speak up for inclusion and lead the international community to erase barriers that prevent the full participation of all people.

Together, we can lead the charge to build a more inclusive world.

This post is part of the #COVID-19 and international development series.

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Alexandra Bingham

Alexandra Bingham is the Advocacy Communications and Media Officer for CBM Australia, an international Christian development organisation devoted to improving the lives of people with disabilities in the poorest places on earth.

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