#Relay4Equality to Include Disabled People in Discussions About Poverty

By Tim Hardy

In 2000, 189 nations promised to free people from extreme poverty and multiple deprivations (pdf). This pledge turned into the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015.

However, disabled people were not involved in the process to create the goals and their needs are ignored in the goals themselves as well as the targets and measurements that go with them.

This has meant that disabled people haven’t been able to benefit as much as they could have done from the increased opportunities development has made possible in poor countries – and also that they haven’t been able to contribute their skills, knowledge, experience and energy to help their countries succeed. Given that one in five of the world’s poor people have a disability of some kind, this is a lot of people being excluded!

(Charlie Matthews, Relay4Equality.)

The MDGs expire in 2015 and the conversation has already begun to decide what will replace them.

The NGO Sightsavers are currently working to produce a “Voices of the Marginalised” report with five other organisations – ADD, Alzheimer’s Disease International, Basic Needs, HelpAge International and the Secretariat of the African Decade for People with Disabilities. The report examines how the current MDGs have affected disabled people, older people and people with mental health issues or dementia.

Sightsavers are determined that disabled people are not excluded next time and have produced a short film featuring Paralympic athletes who will be taking part in London 2012 as part of their campaign to make sure that voices of blind, disabled, and other marginalised people are listened to in discussions about poverty. It’s called Relay4Equality.

Please take a moment to watch then share the video using the hashtag #Relay4Equality then visit Sightsavers to learn more about the campaign.

The Atos Games

Elsewhere, many are concerned that a government hell bent on demonising sick and disabled people will cynically attempt to use the Paralympics to whitewash their  heartless policies:

By all means, let us celebrate the Paralympics. But don’t let this Government capitalise on it. They are leaving sick and disabled people frightened, impoverished, stripped of dignity, independence and hope.

(Owen Jones: David Cameron praises Paralympians, but his policies will crush them)

Protests are planned for over 20 towns and cities to draw attention to the grotesque hypocrisy in allowing Atos Origin to sponsor the Paralympic Games.

These interventions are much needed in a society where the police arrest people for speaking out against the greenwashing of Olympics sponsors and a man with Parkinson’s can be restrained, handcuffed and taken to a police station for not visibly enjoying the Games.

Yet we cannot allow Tory hypocrisy and the contempt for liberty shown by the British police and politicians to overshadow the good that can come out of the Games. As well as supporting these protests organised by DPAC and UKUncut, please take a look at separate initiatives like #Relay4Equality which are making the most of this opportunity to help include disabled people in discussions about poverty.