Ecuador

Parliamentarians address the rights of children with disabilities

By David Ponet

The Inter-Parliamentary Union is a critical UNICEF partner in mobilizing members of parliaments on behalf of the world’s children. At the latest meeting, the parliamentarians discussed their role in addressing the rights of children with disabilities.
 
QUITO, Ecuador, 2 April 2013 – More than 600 parliamentarians participated in the 128th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly held from 22–27 March in Quito, Ecuador. The parliamentarians came together to tackle a range of challenges – from crisis in the Syrian Arab Republic to development priorities after 2015.

UNICEF reports on how the 128th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly, held from 22–27 March in Quito, Ecuador, addressed children's rights.  Watch in RealPlayer

 

Among the issues high on the agenda was their role in addressing the rights of children with disabilities.

Among the poorest

There are millions of children with disabilities in the world. They are often likely to be among the poorest members of the population.

These children are less likely to attend school, access medical services or have their voices heard in society.

Their disabilities also place them at a higher risk of physical abuse, and often exclude them from receiving proper nutrition or humanitarian assistance in emergencies.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Ecuador/2013/Ponce
Parliamentarians participate in a discussion on Ecuador's government-led programmes for children with disabilities. More than 600 parliamentarians participated in the 128th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly, which was held in Quito, Ecuador, from 22-27 March.

Joint panel on advancing rights

IPU and UNICEF organized a joint panel that focused on what members of parliaments can do to advance the rights of children with disabilities. During the panel, Deputy Director of UNICEF Programmes Division Susana Sottoli remarked, “At UNICEF, we believe that realizing the rights of children with disabilities is both an investment in the future and a requirement for development.

“Of course, as parliamentarians, you have the power to pass legislation and adopt budgets favourable to these children. But, equally important, you can use your oversight powers to make sure government upholds its commitments under the [Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities], and under national laws and policies.

“And, as the branch of government closest to the people, you are uniquely placed to give voice to the needs and concerns of all your constituents, including children with disabilities,” Ms. Sottoli added.

Governments are committed under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to ensure that children with disabilities can exercise their right to express their views freely on all matters affecting them. Under the Convention, governments need to consult children with disabilities when developing and implementing legislation and policies that concern them.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Ecuador/2013/Ponce
UNICEF Representative in Ecuador Nadya Vasquez is joined by government officials as they brief parliamentarians. Among the issues high on the agenda of the assembly was the role of parliamentarians in addressing the rights of children with disabilities.

A view of disability in Quito

Families of children with disabilities need appropriate support so that they can provide the best possible quality of life for their children. This support can take the form of subsidized day care or grants to offset the increased costs and reduced income that come with caring for a child with a disability.

This type of assistance can help reduce the pressure to separate children with disabilities from their families and confine them to institutions.
As part of the IPU Assembly, parliamentarians visited initiatives of the Government of Ecuador – spearheaded by the vice president’s office – in the greater Quito area that provide aid to families of children with disabilities.

The Manuela Espejo Solidarity Mission, for example, identifies persons with disabilities throughout Ecuador, even in the remotest areas. It is then able to provide these families with the equipment (wheelchairs, beds, anti¬-bedsore mattresses or cushions, prosthetic devices, kits for visual and hearing impairments) and services they need.

The Government of Ecuador has also increased the number of housing units available to persons with disabilities and emphasizes inclusion within the workforce.

Parliamentarians visited families who participate in these programmes and saw first-hand the kinds of policies and attendant budgets that legislators can adopt as they address the rights of children with disabilities.

Click here for more information on UNICEF’s work on disability.


 

 

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