The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres delivered an address at the Global Disability Summit on February 16, 2022.
The following is a portion of his address:
It is my pleasure to join you for the opening of the second Global Disability Summit.
My thanks to the International Disability Alliance and the Governments of Norway and Ghana for bringing us together.
We are meeting in the midst of an unprecedented crisis.
COVID-19 intensified glaring inequalities – and produced new threats.
Persons with disabilities are losing their lives at vastly higher rates due to persistent barriers in health systems.
When schools shut down, many students with disabilities are left without access to technology and assistive devices for effective remote learning.
Workers with disabilities – who were already experiencing exclusion and marginalization – are often the first to lose their jobs and the last to be rehired.
Women and girls with disabilities – who were already experiencing double discrimination – are facing even higher risk of violence and abuse.
The last two years have painfully demonstrated the urgent need for all of us to work together to advance the rights of persons with disabilities around the world.
In 2018, governments and organisations came together to make ambitious global and national commitments to disability inclusion.
This Summit provides an opportunity to reflect on those efforts and commit to do more.
I see three priorities.
First, we need more disability-inclusive development.
Persons with disabilities are often among the poorest and most disadvantaged members of the community.
They must be at the front and centre of our efforts.
We need to act decisively to realise and promote the rights of persons with disabilities in every corner of the world and in every facet of life.
Global inequalities reverberate at the local level. When developing countries are strangled financially, people with disabilities are among the first victims.
That is why we need a reformed global financial system allowing far greater investments in disability inclusion to create accessible environments and opportunities everywhere.
Everyone, everywhere must be free to go to school, to access health care, to start a family, have decent work and participate fully in all spheres of economic, social, cultural, and political life.
Second, we need broader and deeper co-operation.
We must take a whole-of-society approach to ensuring disability inclusion.
Only by working together – across governments, international organisations, civil society, and the private sector – can we effectively implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and deliver on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for persons with disabilities.
Third, we need the leadership of persons with disabilities, particularly women with disabilities and their representative organisations.
The foundation of our co-operation must be based on active consultation with persons with disabilities in their full diversity and their full inclusion in decision-making-processes.
We must realise the powerful call of persons with disabilities: ‘Nothing about us, without us.’