Leading Disability Charity Welcomes U.N. Decision to Make Disabled Top Priority

A major U.K.-based charity for the disabled has welcomed the U.N.'s decision to make disability a top priority as part of their 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

More than 150 heads of state and government from all over the world are to attend the U.N. Summit, that was opened by Pope Francis on Friday morning. The summit will set out a universal framework which aims to help eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development by 2030, including an ambitious set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The goals replace the Millennium Development Goals, set out in 2000, that are credited with helping to halve the number of those in extreme poverty from 2 billion to 1 billion, according to the World Bank.

Part of the agenda commits all member governments of the U.N. to build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive as well as providing safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all.

Leonard Cheshire Disability, a leading disability charity which supports thousands of people with disabilities across the globe, is one of the organisations supporting the new initiative. The charity believes the new agenda could transform the lives for the one billion people living with disabilities globally, ensuring they are guaranteed mainstream education globally by 2030.

Reacting to the news, Tiziana Oliva, the international director of Leonard Cheshire Disability said in quotes first seen by Newsweek: "The Sustainable Development Goal targets agreed today ensure that people with disabilities will not be left behind in the new development agenda, something we as a charity have been campaigning towards for many years."

People with disabilities make up one of the most disadvantaged and marginalized groups within society and are routinely denied their most basic human rights—often cut off from education, employment and healthcare. "Many are trapped in a cycle of extreme poverty," said Oliva in the statement, adding, "Yet until now, people with disabilities have frequently been left out of development program. We welcome this new agenda to create just and inclusive societies, which will leave no one behind."

Around 15 percent of the world's population, an estimated 1 billion people, live with disabilities, and are the world's largest minority according to the U.N.. The World Bank estimates that 20 percent of the world's poorest people have some kind of disability, and tend to be regarded in their own communities as the most disadvantaged, while 90 percent of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend school, according to UNESCO.