Of the billion people worldwide who have a disability, the vast majority live in developing countries. People with disabilities represent some of the most excluded of all groups in the community. They are less likely to have access to healthcare and education, and in turn find making a livelihood and escaping poverty that much more difficult, if not impossible.
It is sadly true that one of the biggest and most neglected challenges facing the global community is still malnutrition, specifically undernutrition. It affects more people than any single disease and is an underlying cause of nearly half of all child deaths. In the global fight to end suffering and reduce poverty, tackling undernutrition will have a significant and lasting impact.
I say ending violence against women and girls requires all of us - men and boys, women and girls, governments, communities and activists. I genuinely believe that we have a common goal. And I genuinely believe that we can work together in a way that does not reassert male power over women, that keeps women and girls at the centre, and focuses on transforming gender inequality rather than just adding men and boys.
I suspect most of us want to see an effective international aid programme. But only by addressing some of the institutional processes by which money is awarded and projects assessed are we likely to feel as confident as we ought that British international aid is making the difference it should, and difference it could.
The International Day of the Girl Child recognises the specific barriers faced by girls globally that inhibit their potential to act in and shape the world around them, and Malala is a perfect example for us. She is a girl, yes. But she is not helpless. She is a survivor, not ours to save. She is her own advocate.
For thousands of children in Syria, summer vacation is no longer about taking a break from their hectic school lives. On the contrary, with displacement and violence regularly interrupting normal classes, many children around the country used their summer break to visit school clubs and catch up on lost school days.
This country needs a foreign policy, but increasingly it has two. One is NATO summits, and conference calls with the White House: a global player, but whose star is on the wane. The other is as a self-declared aid superpower. DFID appears as a new Colonial Office whose role is to manage relations with poor countries.
In a taped recording he left to be played in the event of his assassination, Harvey Milk, America's first openly gay elected official, left a message for our times. "All young people," he said, "regardless of their sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment to achieve their full potential." Nowhere is the world further from that goal than in Africa.
The call for DFID to make concrete commitments to include people with disabilities has been growing over the last decade. 2014 marks the year where these calls have been heard. We look forward to working with DFID to ensure people with disabilities are at the heart of the decisions to come, the impact of which could change the lives of millions.
As a Brit, I am proud that our government is spending 0.7% of our GDP on international development; but I am concerned that we have failed to understand the pervasive inequality facing people with learning disabilities. We must commit to correcting this failure and bringing about the more just world that the architects of the MDGs had in mind... but how?
You may be surprised to learn that over the past decade, a third of the money pledged by aid donors for water and sanitation has failed to be delivered. That's US$27.6 billion out of the US$81.2 billion committed since 2002. This is a staggering amount of money. It could have helped hundreds of millions of people gain access to water and sanitation.