What is EDF’s work and perspectives for engaging in disability inclusive SDGs?

The European Disability Forum (EDF) wants to make sure the SDGs also become a reality for the 80 million Europeans with disabilities. We advocate for disability-inclusive SDGs.

In particular, EDF:

  • Aim to harmonise SDGs policy on disability-inclusive development at European level,
  • Support European organisations of persons with disabilities to implement and monitor the SDGs at national level,
  • Advocate for strong data disaggregation by disability using the Washington Group Short Set of Questions on Disability,
  • Engage in information sharing with other regional platforms of persons with disabilities outside the EU.

EDF prepared it's 2nd Human Rights report on the theme "The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals: A European perspective to respect, protect and fulfil the United Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities"

To mark the start of the High Level Political Forum in July 2019 on Sustainable Development and underline that persons with disabilities need to be included in the Sustainable Development Goals, we have launched 7 short videos. The videos highlight how the life of persons with disabilities will improve if we achieve 7 of the Sustainable Development Goals. We have also published flyers on the Sustainable Development Goals in all EU languages, Easy to Read English and in International Sign.

Additionally, we work on the following themes:

Disability rights strategy 2020-2030.

In May 2017, EDF adopted its Strategic Framework for 2017-2021 during our annual general assembly. Specifically, we aim for a comprehensive disability rights strategy 2020-2030, which will be implemented via an inter-institutional agreement at EU level, in line with the SDG and the CRPD.


Gender equality

EDF fully shares the vision of the European Commission of ensuring equality for all persons. Women with disabilities constitute 16% of the total population of women in Europe. In general, the EU’s legal framework handles gender and disability separately in its policy, resulting in a lack of visibility for women with disabilities. One positive aspect with regards to the EU’s internal policy on violence against women with disabilities, is the EU’s signing of the Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence.

The new external cooperation framework of the EU, the European Consensus on Development, acknowledges gender equality as a core and fundamental value to achieve the SDGs.


Accessibility relates to a number of SDGs including goal 1 (poverty), goal 4 (education), goal 5 (gender equality), goal 8 (decent work and economic growth), goal 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure) and goal 11 (sustainable cities and communities). At EU level, general legislation on accessibility does not exist. The European Union is now discussing a proposal for a law that can make several products and services accessible in Europe: the European Accessibility Act. EDF is advocating for a strong Accessibility Act.

Employment and social rights

The EU has taken several initiatives to promote the employment of persons with disabilities with regards to its internal and external policies, both legislative and soft law measures.

On the 17 November 2017, the EU adopted the European Pillar of Social Rights (Social Pillar). The Social Pillar is made of 20 voluntary principles based on social rights and on ad hoc legislative initiatives. It aims at delivering new and more effective rights for citizens in three main areas:

  • Equal opportunities and access to the labour market,
  • Fair working conditions,
  • Social protection and inclusion.

The Social Pillar includes a specific principle on the rights of persons with disabilities and specific legislative proposals on work life balance and a potential one on access to social protection for people in employment. These and other policy actions are fundamental for persons with disabilities to enjoy their rights and live independently in the community. 

The 2030 Agenda presents a unique opportunity to strengthen the EU’s work around sustainable development.

The Social Pillar will represent the broad framework for the EU investment on social rights in the future. Preparation of the future EU budget should include allocation of adequate financial resources to the implementation of the Social Pillar as part of the broader implementation of the SDGs. EDF works toward strong Social Pillar in line with the CRPD and the SDGs.


Disaggregation of data by disability

Goal 17.18 focuses entirely on developing the capacity of national systems to produce reliable data that can be disaggregated by markers such as disability. The presence of disability markers within indicators is highly significant because it will enable key progress areas to be systematically measured in relation to persons with disabilities. If there are gaps in progress affecting persons with disabilities, in relation to both countries and sectors, then it should be much easier to identify and take measures to reduce the inequalities.

However, collecting data on persons with disabilities remains challenging because the process is problematic. For instance, simply asking people to state if they have a disability is not effective and will result in very low response rates.

In response to the challenges surrounding the collection of disability disaggregated data, the Washington Group on Disability Statistics was established by the UN Statistical Commission with the task of creating a comparable population based measure of disability that is consistent with a rights-based understanding. This resulted in the production of a series of question sets, commonly referred to as the Washington Group Short set ofQuestions which enable data to be sensitively collected on prevalence including numbers, types and severity of disabilities.

EDF advocates for strong and accurate data, using the Washington Group Short Set of Questions. Consult EDF’s position paper on European Union indicators on the SDGs (March 2017).


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