7 things you should know about the Global Disability Summit

A summary of key results of the London Global Disability Summit 2018
Photo: The Light for the World delegation at GDS 2018. Credit: Light for the World

1. The Summit meaningfully brought in people with disabilities  

Both the planning of the Summit and the Summit programme itself were truly organised according to the “nothing about us without us” principle. Read more about the role of Disabled People’s Organisations here. As Ola Abu Al Ghaib from IDDC commented: It’s clear there is no longer an excuse for not engaging with DPOs!”


2. Inclusive education was a top issue 

One of the key themes of the Summit was the tens of millions of children with disabilities who are shut out of school. Our colleagues Nafisa Baboo and Nidhi Singal initiated a joint statement of Action  and co-authored an OpEd for Devex on this important issue. The World Bank announced that by 2025 all its education programmes will be disability inclusive. DfID also announced a major new Inclusive Education Initiative in partnership with the World Bank, Norway and many others. It will support countries to gather data, train teachers, carry out reforms and place disability inclusion at the centre of ALL education programmes. Light for the World is proud to support this initiative!

 Inclusive education symbol pic

3. We heard from many formidable leaders who have disabilities

From UN Committee chairs, to top media personalities, to a head of state – there were many prominent disabled speakers at the Summit. Our UK Chair, Tom Shakespeare, gave a powerful speech on the topic of inclusive leadership. Tom’s parting thought: “Let’s connect with others, mentor the next generation of leadership and hand over and maybe we ourselves can move on to other things.”

4. Significant financial commitments were made by the World Bank and DfID – but the overall financial picture is hard to judge

The CEO of the World Bank, Kristalina Georgieva, announced a list of impressive commitments on inclusive programmes, data and internal recruitment (“To succeed we need to look like the world we serve”). DfID also announced the steps it will take, including a major increase in investment through programmes like Aid Connect and Disability Inclusive Development. Both announcements are brilliant to hear. Beyond these two institutions, it was hard to get a real overview of the investment boost the Summit will achieve in total. As Vladimir Cuk of the IDA points out in this Guardian article, one of the reasons for slow progress to date is the lack of budget for disability and development. So we are all hoping for more!

5. Data, economic empowerment, women’s rights and accessible technology were all important topics

Time and time again, people spoke about the importance of data: if people with disabilities are literally not counted, how can we move forward?! IDDC’s Dom Haslam spoke strongly on this topic. Read more, including about the Inclusive Data Charter, on Sightsavers’ website here. Economic empowerment and the involvement of business was also a key theme at the summit. A major new initiative on accessible technology was announced. Women leaders including CRPD Committee member, Sightsavers' Gertrude Fefoame from Ghana noted the links between women’s rights and disability rights. We agree and are proud to have launched the Her Abilities Award in recognition of this!

 Key visual of Her Abilities Award

6. DfID showed its leadership on this issue

The UK government committed itself to becoming a global leader on the issue of disability and development. As International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: “Discrimination and stigma against disabled people is a global injustice - one that has been ignored for too long - and one we need to fix urgently.” This is an extremely positive, praiseworthy and historical move! Still, UK disability groups continue to demand accountability on the UNCRPD’s recommendations to ensure progress at home, too.

 Penny Mordaunt MP - Portsmouth North

7.   It happened!

The sheer fact that 700 senior government, charity, business and DPO (Disabled People’s Organisations) representatives came together for these two days marks a real milestone of hope and progress. For sure, we can’t expect to see real change without further commitments and a huge step-up in financial investment across the globe. But the signs are all promising. And we, as Civil Society, are ready to collaborate and hold to account all those who have – and have not yet - made promises! There is a still long way to go… but we are certainly on the way! #NowIsTheTime