The British High Commission on Wednesday held a satellite disability summit in Lilongwe ahead of the United Kingdom’s (UK)first ever Global Disability Summit in London on July 24.
The local summit brought together delegates from government, non-governmental organisations, the private sector and development partners to discuss major challenges that people with disabilities face and share knowledge on how to empower and include people with disabilities in the country’s development.
UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) interim country director Chris Austin said it is important that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else.
He said: “An estimated 800 million people with disabilities live in developing countries and the 2013 World Bank study estimated that about 1.4 million Malawians live with a disability of some kind. The local disability summit was meant to serve as a useful platform to establish a strong network and broaden engagement among different players here in Malawi on how we can break barriers for people with disabilities.”
In her remarks, Secretary for Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Esmie Kainja, who was the guest of honour, described the summit as an opportunity to take stock of areas where the country has done well and those that require improvement.
She said: “This occasion gives us a platform to project a wide range of messages for Malawi to take to the summit where the minister [Jean Kalilani] is participating as a leader of the Malawi delegation.”
On her part, United Nations Women country representative Clara Anyangwe, who represented development partners, said the summit will challenge stakeholders on delivering inclusive development.
“The UN is geared towards the promotion of the 2030 agenda of leaving no one behind. This summit as well as the main one in London will challenge all stakeholders on how to deliver inclusive development for persons with disability,” she said.
Delegates to the local summit also visited pavilions of selected organisations that are leading in special needs programming such as the Ministry of Gender, Malawi Human Rights Commission, UN Women and Sightsavers to learn from some of their work.
The Global Disability Summit seeks to raise awareness and show the UK’s commitment to transform lives of people with disabilities. It will secure ambitious commitments to make a tangible difference to people around the world.