Investing in Diversity: A Roundtable on Increasing Investment in Disability and Inclusion

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Business Wire India

The Embassies of Spain and Finland in India, in collaboration with the ETI Foundation, convened a roundtable to strengthen investments in the realm of disability and inclusion. The event, hosted on March 22 at the Embassy of Spain, brought together stakeholders from various sectors, including NGOs, CSOs, corporate social responsibility initiatives, other funders, and advocates from the community. The purpose of the roundtable was to forge cohesive strategies for deliberate investments by providing a platform to select organizations — with interventions spanning from locomotive to intellectual disability — for presenting their work to the other attendees capable of providing them with financial and strategic assistance.
 
According to the World Health Organisation’s Global Report on Health Equity for Persons with Disabilities (2022), approximately 80% of the world’s 1.3 billion people with disabilities reside in low-and middle-income nations, compared to 20% in high-income countries. The report further explains how investing in health equity for individuals with disabilities is synonymous with investing in “Health for All”. Continued investment from critical stakeholders, such as businesses, is necessary to guarantee fair access for individuals with disabilities, and this approach yields significant social and economic benefits.
 
Therefore, investing in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives tailored to addressing the needs of people with disabilities is imperative for fostering an inclusive and equitable society. At the national and global levels, the creation of an ecosystem centred around disability-focused CSR serves to advocate for equal opportunity, which in turn catalyzes the development of groundbreaking, innovative solutions that benefit the society at large.
 
The Honourable Ambassador of Spain, José María Ridao Domínguez, stated, “Spain is deeply committed to the promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities, as is a priority of our foreign policy. An example of this commitment was the recent appointment of Mr Ángel Lossada as Ambassador-at-Large for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, who visited India last December and met with some of the NGOs present here today.” He added, “It is a great honor for us to partner up with the Embassy of Finland for this occasion and to contribute together to build a conversation around possible avenues to promote inclusion. The fight for equality concerns us all; it requires both political commitment and the participation of civil society. We are delighted with the great response that the initiative has had among the leading socially responsible companies.”

Ambassador of Finland in India, Kimmo Lähdevirta, said, “Human rights and Sustainable Development Goals are realized only when the rights of persons with disabilities, and of everyone, are protected. It is of key importance to strengthen the participation of persons with disabilities and their representative organizations in all processes. Providing livelihood opportunities to persons with disabilities, especially to women and girls with disabilities, changes attitudes towards disability.”
 
He further added, “With its human rights-based approach, Finland aims to eliminate barriers to full, effective and meaningful participation of persons with disabilities in society on an equal basis with others. Organizations of persons with disabilities should be seen as valuable resources and agents of change, as they have comprehensive insights into what an inclusive approach actually means.”

Throughout the roundtable, a shared commitment to expanding opportunities for and protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities, echoed, underscoring the belief that investing in disability is a pathway to sustainable growth and social progress. The roundtable also delved into the role of businesses in driving social change, stressing the need for collaboration between government, corporations, and civil society to create an ecosystem that supports disability inclusion. The roundtable witnessed an exchange of ideas and innovations on dismantling accessibility barriers, both physical and structural, in workplaces, educational institutions, and public spaces, and the discussion also focused on fostering a culture of inclusion within the organizations.
 
Prof. Virander Singh Chauhan, Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of Delhi, and Director, ETI Foundation, believes that there has never been a greater need for inclusivity across all verticals of development than now: the innovation discourse in the space of disability is evolving so rapidly concerning public access now. He added, “There is so much to learn here, all of which seemed like a distant reality even a few years ago; the potential to drive change cannot merely be sought from “acceptance or tolerance” towards the community but to derive inspiration from them. We at ETI are deeply honoured and committed to advancing this collaboration.”