There is no one definition of disability. However, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) recognises that ‘disability is an evolving concept’ and that ‘persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others’.

There is an estimated one billion people with disabilities globally – approximately 15 percent of the world’s population. An estimated 80% of people with disabilities live in developing countries and one in five of the world’s poorest people have a disability. People with disabilities face barriers in all sectors (access to education, healthcare, employment, income, justice, social support, appropriate assistive technology and opportunities for civic involvement) and at all levels, from systemwide exclusion to negative attitudes within the community and wider society. These barriers create lasting disadvantages and a vicious cycle of poverty between schooling, employment and people’s life chances. People with disabilities face intersecting and compounding forms of discrimination on the grounds of gender, sexuality, impairment type, age, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, and location which all contribute to disability-related exclusion.

The Department for International Development (DFID’s) Disability Inclusion Strategy is about how we can achieve a world where no-one is left behind.

People with disabilities need to be:

  • Engaged, consulted, represented and listened to at all levels of decision-making and as leaders
  • Empowered as powerful and active agents of change to challenge discrimination
  • Able to exercise and enjoy their fundamental rights and freedoms on an equal basis.

Our resources

External resources