Disability Activist Calls for Disability Inclusion

Disability Activist Calls for Disability Inclusion

When he was two years old, Edward Ndopu was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy and given five years to live. Now an award-winning disabilities advocate who has the ear of the UN secretary general, Ndopu says that it is time to do more to boost the economic wellbeing and participation of people living in the developing world, especially those living with disabilities.
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Unequal Benefits  
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Participating in the Sustainable Development Impact Summit | #Sustainable Development Impact Summit |, Ndopu explains that the benefits of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution are not being experienced equally.
Ndopu explains that he is a young person from the African continent, a person of color, and a person with disability. He says that for him, the UN goals and the sustainable agenda are a blueprint “for creating a world where I’m able to see myself reflected.”
The goals, he explains, offer humanity a pathway “for making sure that all voices are equal.” He believes that the nations of the world have a unique window of opportunity at the present moment for connecting international development and social justice.
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Challenges
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When asked about the challenges he sees to advancing that agenda, and helping communities who are marginalized and vulnerable, Ndopu pointed out that between 200-250 million people could be plunged into extreme poverty as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic. He said that it is important to think about why their situation is so precarious in the first place.
Ndopu also argued that the world has the opportunity to get beyond “what I call the zero mentality – this idea that the minimum threshold is good enough.”
Ndopu also points to the need for representation: “We need to ensure that the people in those rooms look like the communities they represent and are advocating on behalf of.”
Beyond Zero
Working to advance solutions for these problems, Ndopu has founded a not-for-profit organization called Beyond Zero. He works with leaders, both in the public and private sectors, to help them identify ways that “they can increase and raise that income threshold.”
His constituencies are mostly people with disabilities, and he goes to great lengths to encourage others to think outside the box and go above and beyond. “We need to go beyond just the ramp, beyond braille, beyond sign language, to really think about access that goes beyond the built environment and into economic participation,” Ndopu says. “Where disabled people feel as though they are productive, valuable members of society.”
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Bridging the Gaps
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When asked what keeps him up at night in terms of trying to make progress, Ndopu explained that “it’s the fear that people are already being left behind.” He is deeply aware that this could have happened to him.
“I have a Master’s from Oxford,” Ndopu said, “But I’m always deeply aware that 90% of children with disabilities across the developing world have never even seen the inside of a classroom.”
Ndopu sees the current state of the world as one characterized by extremes: extreme wealth on the one hand, extreme poverty on the other. His desire is to help bridge the gaps.
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Sustainable Development Impact Summit | #Sustainable Development Impact Summit |: Source from weforum website
 

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