On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we celebrate how far the World Bank has come on disability inclusion, due in large part to the advocacy by persons with disabilities and disabled persons’ organizations. We, as civil society, no longer have to focus on making the case for why disability must be included in World Bank operations; instead, we now focus on how to ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities in World Bank projects and programs. The implementation of the new Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) presents a significant opportunity to engage with World Bank staff and management on how to meaningfully consult with persons with disabilities throughout the project lifecycle and how persons with disabilities can access project benefits. Another important, timely way in which the World Bank can focus on how to include disability in its operations is through IDA19.
Disability is a cross-cutting issue in IDA19 and must be embedded in all five special themes. Persons with disabilities are often overlooked in project design, and because of environmental or social barriers, are unable to share in project benefits. Therefore, it is imperative that all five IDA19 special themes address how persons with disabilities are specifically impacted by Bank programming in that special theme. This can be accomplished by at least one policy commitment in each of the five special themes that addresses persons with disabilities.
IDA19 is to be finalized within the next few weeks, but disability is still missing from the Gender and Development as well as the Climate Change special themes. This must change. In order to fully address how persons with disabilities can benefit from World Bank projects and programs, each IDA19 special theme--Gender; Jobs and Economic Transformation; Governance and Institutions; Climate Change; and Fragility, Conflict and Violence--must identify the ways in which persons with disabilities will be uniquely impacted and highlight how, and how many, persons with disabilities will benefit from World Bank projects and programs. Civil society is ready to engage with World Bank staff and management on how to operationalize these commitments to ensure full inclusion for persons with disabilities.