Dr. Caroline Harper, Sightsavers’ CEO, brought much-needed attention to the goals of The Global Disability Summit, held July 24th. 800 delegates from around the globe came together in London to help alleviate the challenges encountered by the world’s disabled population.
Sightsavers, a United Kingdom-based charity, works to prevent avoidable blindness and empower people with disabilities. Sightsavers provides medical and educational support in over 30 countries. They promote eye health and treat the causes of preventable blindness. Sightsavers also works to influence the UK government and world leaders to support people with disabilities.
Disability Rights Shortcomings
Over a billion humans live with a disability, with around 80% of them living in under-developed countries. Fundamental human rights, including quality education, proper healthcare, or being considered for jobs, are denied to this group.
The United Nations drafted changes that fall under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Although this program is commendable, the changes have been slow to be implemented. Taking action to assist the disabled population is the focus of the Global Disability Summit.
Our colleague Kate followed a surgical outreach team as they were tracking down and treating the final cases of blinding #trachoma in northern Ghana. In the photo is Fusi, ophthalmic nurse. LINK IN BIO: http://po.st/trachoma-final-days. 📷 Ruth McDowell. #sightsavers #sight #sightloss #vision #blindness #visionloss #beatNTDs #NoMoreNTDs #ghana #africa #westafrica #discoverportrait #portraitphotography #portraitpage #peopleinframe #smiling
The Key Themes for Changes in Global Efforts
The summit was organized around four key themes to improve disability rights.
Sightsavers drafted its own vision for the event and encouraged all attendees to make commitments on inclusivity amongst the disabled and urged accountability by participating organizations.
Commitments to Change
More than 300 organizations signed the Global Disability Summit Charter for Change. Delegates pledged to uphold over 170 specific commitments that would ensure a better life for those with disabilities.
Summit delegates promised to enact new disability inclusion plans, pass new laws protecting rights, and support the disabled living in conflict or crisis regions, notably a $16.4M commitment by Australia for assistance in Syria. Organizations will develop more technologies to aid the disabled, and seven UN agencies pledged to change how they included the disabled within their agency.
Sightsavers has spent years at the forefront of advocacy for people with disabilities and is excited by the commitments made at the Summit.