Disabled people are routinely left behind as countries develop. In order for DFID to address this in its work, disability needs to be embedded across the work of DFID, in the same way that gender is, in order to really ensure that disabled people are included in all the work it does as a department. RESULTS UK and its partners in the Bond Disability and Development Group (Bond DDG) have been calling for this for the past few years, since we first started working on disability, as part of our work on education.
In 2014 DFID launched its first Disability Framework and RUK, along with other organisations, cautiously celebrated. Despite our celebrations, we all felt it could have been more ambitious and lacked accountability. An updated version of the framework was launched a year later and there were definite signs of improvement but the real difference has now been made by having a Secretary of State who has taken this on as one of her key issues. As I wrote in a previous blog, Priti Patel announced her intention to make DFID a global leader on disability in December last year. We are hoping that this strong lead from the Ministerial level will continue after the General Election, but we will have to wait and see who the next Secretary of State for International Development will be
We are now really starting to see this intention coming through in terms of accountability mechanisms. The Bi-lateral Development Review, which lays out DFID’s approach to all its work that is not with multilateral organisations, expressed the Secretary of State’s vision, for DFID to be a global leader on disability. The DFID report on the Global Goals (or SDGs as they are also known) includes disability throughout. A Disability Policy Marker has now been put in place internally within DFID, which means that it is mandatory for all DFID programmes to reported on the percentage of the budget that is allocated to including people with disabilities (there is no information on this on the DFID website yet, they are planning to put something up after the election). Finally the Business Cases for all DFID funding now have to say how they are planning to include disabled people and if not, why not.
At the same time, the DFID Disability Team is growing from three people to six, which will enable them to put more time into working both externally and internally to ensure these mechanisms work and disabled people are really included in all that DFID does.
As we know from living in the UK, it takes changes in attitude and awareness to really ensure that disabled people are properly included in all aspects of life but this needs to be led by mechanisms that lead people to think about how to ensure disabled people are included. DFID are now leading the way on ensuring this is happening in development contexts.