Demanding a transformative and accelerated action that is inclusive of people with disabilities and in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), Sightsavers calls upon political leaders to mainstream inclusion of persons with disabilities in all the initiatives towards achieving SGDs. This effort is being made before the UN 2023 SDGs Summit. They expressed their demand during a press conference held in Islamabad to highlight the key issues and urgency of the matter.
As the world approaches the upcoming UN Global Summit in September, Sightsavers demands from the Government of Pakistan, political leaders and policymakers to ensure that the political declaration for the UN 2023 SDGs Summit at the UN, and the national commitments they make at the Summit focus on reaching those who are being left furthest behind. Sightsavers consider this the last chance to get the Global Goals back on track.
Munazza Gillani, Country Director Sightsavers, while talking to the media, informed that 15% of Pakistan’s population, around 36 million people, is suffering from some sort of disability, and the absence of an enabling environment and infrastructure is responsible for their isolation and exclusion from the socio-economic development. There is an urgent need to ensure their inclusion and this upcoming UN 2023 SDGs Summit provides an ideal platform to highlight the need of their inclusion.
She further stated that “The SDGs were meant to leave no one behind, and it’s crucial that we hold leaders accountable to that promise as we approach the UN 2023 SDGs Summit in September. Giving the background she highlighted that in 2015, SDGs, a visionary agenda was designed to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. Central to this mission was an unwavering promise to “leave no one behind,” a pledge that explicitly included people with disabilities. However, as it is the midway point to the 2030 deadline, it is said with great concern that there is an alarming derailment of progress towards these critical goals, putting the promise to leave no one behind in jeopardy. And the impacts of COVID-19, global conflict and the escalating climate crisis are only making things worse.
Abia Akram, chair of the National Forum for Women with Disabilities and Global Ambassador for Sightsavers’ campaign, underlined the urgency of the situation, stating, “We cannot afford to let the progress towards these critical goals derail further. Inclusivity must be a priority.”
Globally, Sightsavers extend a resounding call to global leaders to place the goal of inclusivity at the forefront of their agenda. They implore leaders to remember the commitment they made to the most vulnerable among us and make use of this final opportunity to realign the SDGs with their intended trajectory.
Additionally, Sightsavers’ Equal World Campaign has garnered support from across the globe, with huge number of signatures collected from Pakistan in support of the campaign. The purpose of this campaign is to create awareness on the issue among the masses and call on world leaders to include persons with disabilities in their political agendas and national commitments at the 2023 summit.
Asim Zafar, Secretary General of the Community Based Inclusive Development Network Pakistan said that it is imperative to include the voices of people with disabilities and their representative bodies/organisations in the discussions around how to make SDGs implementation more inclusive and equitable for all.