On February 16-17, 2022, the Global Disability Summit (GDS), a top-level online meeting, will be hosted by Norway, Ghana, and the International Disability Alliance. The GDS aims to change the world of development and humanitarian aid. It asks all governments, donors and influential stakeholders to ensure that all aid programmes and policies governing them are inclusive of persons with disabilities. This means making sure all persons with disabilities can access adapted services, and most importantly, that persons with disabilities themselves and the organisations representing them are heard.
The Government of Ghana, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the International Disability Alliance will host the second Global Disability Summit on 16-17 February 2022 (GDS22), with the Atlas Alliance, and the organizations it represents, as the main supporting partner. The first GDS took place in London in 2018. It was an eyeopener to the international development sector and a historic springboard to the wave that we now see rising, making the disability movement ever more visible and disability inclusion more of a priority.
A digital summit 2022
At the GDS, countries are reminded of the rights of the world’s largest minority, efforts, achievements and lessons are discussed, and plans for future development cooperation and humanitarian action are collectively made. The next Global Disability Summit will take place in February 2022. The summit will be digital, which means that it will be open to all to follow.
A Global Advocacy Campaign
Referring to the upcoming GDS where the world leaders will be present and world’s population is invited to follow, civil society can now put in extra efforts to advocate for national, sub-regional, and international advocacy. Disabled Persons’ Organisations (DPOs) can use the event as a tool for securing the implementation of the UNCRPD, for influencing inclusion efforts in global development aid and for addressing issues related to inclusive national budgets and priorities.
The Atlas Alliance has coordinated a process to develop an Advocacy Toolkit that can be downloaded free of charge. The aim is that this will enable and encourage civil society, with DPOs in the lead, to campaign for their disabled population’s human rights to be fulfilled in their respective countries. The Advocacy Toolkit can be found here (link), with a summary of each module for those who do not want to read everything. It is meant to guide the steps in planning an advocacy campaign, but needs to be adapted to the context in which the campaign will take place.
Many local campaigns can lead to increased awareness, interest and identification with the cause, as well as multiple level attendance and worldwide coverage!
Time's Now for the Disability Movement
GDS 2022 will be a digital event, due to the post-pandemic situation, making the capacity for attendance almost infinite. This top-level meeting is a unique opportunity for civil society to engage in human rights advocacy on country level. If word is spread well and wide enough, the upcoming GDS has the potential to revolutionize the disability rights movement. Compared to the GDS 2018, which was itself historic, many more persons with disabilities, DPOs and others can participate, engage, follow the online proceedings, and hold governments and agencies accountable to their commitments. Acknowledging the long legacy of DPOs and building on their tireless work around the world, the GDS will drive the agenda forward.
Time's now to place disability rights in the limelight.