See the child – before the disability, UNICEF says
Inclusion of children with disabilities benefits society as a whole
Dhaka, 23 June 2013 – Children with disabilities and their communities would both benefit if society focused on what those children can achieve, rather than what they cannot do, according to UNICEF’s annual State of the World’s Children’s report.
Concentrating on the abilities and potential of children with disabilities will create benefits for society as a whole, says the report released in Bangladesh today.
"When you see the disability before the child, it is not only wrong for the child, but it deprives society of all that child has to offer," said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Their loss is society's loss; their gain is society's gain.”
The report lays out how societies can include children with disabilities because when they play a full part in society, everyone benefits. For instance, inclusive education broadens the horizons of all children even as it presents opportunities for children with disabilities to fulfill their ambitions.
More efforts to support integration of children with disabilities would help tackle the discrimination that pushes them further into the margins of society.
For many children with disabilities, exclusion begins in the first days of life with their birth going unregistered. Lacking official recognition, they are cut off from the social services and legal protections that are crucial to their survival and prospects. Their marginalization only increases with discrimination.
“For children with disabilities to count, they must be counted – at birth, at school and in life,” said Mr. Lake.
The report was launched today in Bangladesh in the presence of Mr. Nurul Islam Nahid, Education Minister; Ms. Suraiya Begum, ndc, Secretary, Ministry of Social Welfare; Pascal Villeneuve, Representative, UNICEF Bangladesh and two child representatives.
In his speech UNICEF Representative Pascal Villeneuve urged the government and other partners to ensure that children with disabilities are a part of the daily lives of their families, communities and societies. “They must be visible, valued and seen as active participants and contributors, rather than beneficiaries of charity. By working together to make this distinction it will lead to an enormous difference for children living with disabilities,” Mr. Villeneuve added.
The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities states that children with disabilities are the least likely to receive health care or go to school. They are among the most vulnerable to violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect, particularly if they are hidden or put in institutions – because of social stigma or the economic cost of raising them.
The combined result is that children with disabilities are among the most marginalized people in the world. Children living in poverty are among the least likely to attend their local school or clinic but those who live in poverty and also have a disability are even less likely to do so.
Gender is a key factor, as girls with disabilities are less likely than boys to receive food and care.
“Discrimination on the grounds of disability is a form of oppression,” the report says, noting that multiple deprivations lead to even greater exclusion for many children with disabilities.
There is little accurate data on the number of children with disabilities, what disabilities these children have and how disabilities affect their lives. As a result, few governments have a dependable guide for allocating resources to support and assist children with disabilities and their families.
About one third of the world’s countries have so far failed to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In this regard, Bangladesh is among the first countries to ratify and bring into force the two most significant global documents that protect the rights of children with disabilities - the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The National Children Policy 2011 upholds the rights and entitlement of children with disabilities in its articles 6.8 and 6.9.
The report urges all governments to keep their promises to guarantee the equal rights of all their citizens – including their most excluded and vulnerable children.
Progress is being made toward the inclusion of children with disabilities, albeit unevenly, and The State of the World’s Children 2013 sets out an agenda for further action.
It calls for measures to fight discrimination among the general public, decision-makers and providers of such essential services as schooling and health care.
International agencies should make sure the advice and assistance they provide to countries is consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. They should promote a concerted global research agenda on disability to generate data and analysis that will guide planning and resource allocation, the report says.
It emphasizes the importance of involving children and adolescents with disabilities by consulting them on the design and evaluation of programmes and services for them.
To read The State of the World's Children 2013: Children with Disabilities and see additional multimedia material, please visit: http://www.unicef.org.bd/
For broadcasters and print journalists, b-roll and other video material, audio clips and good quality photographs on children with disabilities are available at:
UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: http://www.unicef.org/
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