How the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Address Disability and how a National Disability Insurance Plan could be the means by which we can finally support the needs of the disability community in Canada
For the purpose of this brief, and recognizing there are 2 very distinct ways the disability community wishes to be addressed - ‘person with disability’ and ‘disabled person’ and not wanting to offend anyone, we will try to use ‘person with disability/disabled person’ throughout in the hopes it will give equal recognition for both terms.
The United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) serve as a blueprint for creating a sustainable and inclusive future for all. While these goals encompass a broad range of global challenges, it is essential to examine how they specifically address the rights and well-being of persons with disability/disabled persons. In this post, we will explore the ways in which the SDGs recognize and address disability, promoting equal opportunities, social inclusion, and accessibility worldwide.
Goal 1: No Poverty
People with disabilities/disabled people are disproportionately affected by poverty due to limited access to education, employment, and healthcare. Goal 1 aims to eradicate extreme poverty, providing equal economic opportunities for all individuals, including those with disabilities. By addressing the underlying causes of poverty and implementing inclusive social protection systems, this goal ensures that people with disabilities/disabled people are not left behind, fostering an inclusive and equitable society.
Goal 2 End all forms of malnutrition and hunger
People with disabilities/disabled people often suffer from chronic malnutrition, which also stunts children's brain and physical development and puts them at further risk of death, disease, and lack of success as adults. Goal 2 aims to end all hunger and malnutrition. A report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) of 2013 stated that the emphasis of the SDGs should not be on ending poverty by 2030, but on eliminating hunger and under-nutrition by 2025. Hungry people are less productive and easily prone to diseases. As such, they are unable to improve their livelihood.
Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being
Access to healthcare services is crucial for people with disabilities/disabled people. Goal 3 aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all, including people with disabilities/disabled people. It calls for inclusive healthcare systems, affordable treatments, and rehabilitation services that address the specific needs of people with disabilities/disabled people. This goal also highlights the importance of mental health support, ensuring comprehensive care that promotes the well-being and quality of life of individuals with disabilities.
Goal 4: Quality Education
Education is a fundamental right that must be accessible to all, including people with disabilities/disabled people. Goal 4 emphasizes inclusive and equitable quality education for all individuals. It promotes the removal of barriers to education, such as inaccessible infrastructure, lack of assistive technologies, and discrimination. By ensuring inclusive education systems and specialized support, the SDGs strive to empower people with disabilities/disabled people, equipping them with the skills and knowledge necessary for active participation in society.
Goal 5: Gender Equality
Women and girls with disabilities often face multiple forms of discrimination, including gender-based violence and limited access to resources. Goal 5 seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, regardless of their abilities. It calls for the elimination of all forms of discrimination, ensuring equal opportunities and access to education, healthcare, and employment. By addressing the intersectional experiences of women and girls with disabilities, this goal aims to promote their empowerment, participation, and leadership in all spheres of life. It needs to be added that there are other intersections such as BIPOC and disabled, LGBTQIA+ and disabled, that are much further marginalized and discriminated against.
Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
People with disabilities/disabled people frequently face barriers to employment, leading to high rates of unemployment and economic exclusion. Goal 8 promotes inclusive economic growth and decent work for all individuals, including those with disabilities. It calls for eliminating discriminatory practices in the workplace, providing equal employment opportunities, and promoting accessible work environments. By fostering inclusive labor markets, the SDGs aim to harness the potential of people with disabilities/disabled people, promoting their economic empowerment and social integration.
Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities
People with disabilities/disabled people often experience marginalization and exclusion, exacerbating inequalities within societies. Goal 10 focuses on reducing inequalities and promoting social inclusion. It emphasizes the need to adopt inclusive policies, laws, and practices that protect the rights of people with disabilities/disabled people. This goal calls for equal access to essential services, including transportation, housing, and information, enabling people with disabilities/disabled people to fully participate in social, economic, and political life. By prioritizing inclusivity, the SDGs strive to create a more equitable and harmonious society for everyone.
Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
Cities and communities must be accessible and inclusive to ensure equal opportunities for people with disabilities/disabled people. Goal 11 seeks to create sustainable, inclusive, and resilient urban environments. It emphasizes the provision of accessible infrastructure, affordable housing, and inclusive transport systems. By promoting universal design principles and incorporating the needs of people with disabilities/disabled people in urban planning, the SDGs aim to foster safe, inclusive, and sustainable cities that prioritize the well-being and inclusion of all community members.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals recognize the importance of addressing disability within the broader framework of sustainable development. By explicitly acknowledging the rights and needs of people with disabilities/disabled people, these goals contribute to building a more inclusive and equitable world. Through initiatives such as eradicating poverty, improving access to healthcare and education, promoting employment opportunities, and reducing inequalities, the SDGs strive to ensure that no one is left behind. It is through the collective efforts of governments, organizations, and individuals that we can bridge the gap and create a future that embraces diversity, empowers people with disabilities/disabled people, and fosters inclusive societies.