With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the United Nations Member States pledged that “no one will be left behind”. This is why special attention must be given to persons with disabilities. This vulnerable group of population has the right to enjoy a decent and purposeful life, equal to others and without discrimination. Understanding and recognizing that disability is the result of the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers is crucial to enabling their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others. Disability need not be an obstacle to success for any person.

To make our policies more equitable and to achieve equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities disability issues must be mainstreamed as an integral part of sustainable development strategies.
It is my belief that development is measured not by how much we produce and earn, but by how well we treat the most vulnerable members of our society.

In its resolutions 69/313 and 71/313, the United Nations General Assembly spelled out principles for the disaggregation of data on Sustainable Development Goals by sex, age, geography, income, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability and other characteristics relevant in national contexts. This underscores the importance of improved and expanded production of disability statistics – not just as an isolated topic, but in combination with other dimensions of data disaggregation.

I am proud to present the ESCWA Disability Framework: 115 indicators to bridge the gap between policy and statistics. It is the first three-dimensional disability framework that maps disability-related indicators to three major development frameworks: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In addition to the Regional Guidebook to Improve Disability Data Collection and Analysis in the Arab Countries, published by ESCWA in 2018, the Framework and its 115 indicators embodies a major step forward in bridging the gap between policy and statistics and monitor progress made. 

The Framework will be an important tool for guiding efforts at the national, regional and global levels to harmonize the production of comparable data. It will facilitate reporting on the situation of persons with disabilities in critical disability-inclusive development goals. These include inclusive education, employment, empowerment, health and justice. The framework will, through improved disability statistics, provide a clearer picture to compare persons with disabilities and those with no disabilities. The framework will also assist data producers to provide valuable and better information for policymakers to ensure that all people with disabilities everywhere and anywhere are indeed included.

I hope that the ESCWA Disability Framework will contribute to the aim of “leaving no one behind” and mark a turning point for inclusive participation of persons with disabilities in the life of their societies.


Rola Dashti

Executive Secretary