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Statement by Gilbert Houngbo, President of IFAD, Global Disability Summit 2022

17 February 2022
©IFAD/G.M.B. Akash

One billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability. Disability is more prevalent in the Global South, where people with disabilities are more likely to have less education, poorer health outcomes, lower levels of employment, and higher poverty rates.

Worldwide, people with disabilities are often excluded from leadership roles, or even fully participating in the political and economic life. They face multiple barriers, including social stigma, discriminatory legal frameworks, lack of infrastructure and inadequate measures to accommodate their needs.  

As the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy recognises, persons with disabilities are keen to change things for the better, and they know better than anyone what needs to be done.

Let me say clearly: Persons with disabilities have the right to participate fully and effectively in decisions that affect their lives. And their participation is essential to removing the barriers that prevent their full inclusion and participation in society.

IFAD recognises that reaching the goal of leaving no one behind requires the active involvement of people with disabilities at all stages – from planning and design to implementation and monitoring.

And we are committed to working closely with the International Disability Alliance to develop a corporate Disability Inclusion Strategy aimed at achieving equality of outcomes and fostering an inclusive culture in IFAD. We are working on collecting disaggregated data by disability, gender and age, and increasing consultation and participation of persons with disabilities and their organisations in our operations.

IFAD also commits to ensuring that at least five projects designed between 2022 and 2024 prioritize persons with disabilities.

Fairness, inclusion and human dignity lie at the heart of the United Nations’ mandate. And ensuring that persons with disabilities play a full part in society is key to sustainable development. As we work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to commit to working in partnership toward a more inclusive, accessible and sustainable world.