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Civil Society, Private Sector and Government reflect on the rights of children with disabilities

Civil Society, Private Sector and Government reflect on the rights of children with disabilities
© UNICEF Mozambique/2012/Alves Talala
Data from the last census in Mozambique indicate that half of the population is children and that 14 percent of these have some kind of disability, be it auditory, visual, mental or physical.

MAPUTO, Mozambique 30 May 2012 - A little over 100 people representing various civil society organizations, private sector enterprises, educational institutions and the Government gathered in Indy Village on May 28 to discuss the rights of children with disability in Mozambique. The event was organized by the Civil Society Forum for the Rights of Children (ROSC) in partnership with other organizations, with support from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and arranged by SOICO. It was attended by the Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Women and Social Action (MMAS) and aimed to advocate for the establishment and implementation of laws, policies and practices designed to protect children with disabilities (mainly female) of various forms of abuse, violence and discrimination at school, at home and in the community.

The participants discussed the barriers to creating a framework that would support the rights of children with disabilities in Mozambique, as well as issues like the social inclusion and participation of children with disabilities and the role of the family in protecting these children.

The participants were unanimous in stating that the country has a favorable legal framework for the realization of the rights of children with disabilities, but this legal environment does not match what happens in practice, as thousands of children with disabilities are being denied their rights, such as in the striking lack of access to education.

The traditional views of children born with disabilities often perpetuate stigma and discrimination against this group, and it is therefore necessary to educate the communities in order to change their behavior towards children with disabilities. At the same time, an appeal was made to families with children with disabilities to assume a dominant role in their protection as their support is needed for the children to integrate into society. "Families should not be super-protective, but rather allow these children to participate in social movements and groups such as school clubs, networks, etc., as a way of introducing them into the life of the community and ignoring the negative looks of neighbors and friends," said Marilia Tivane, representative of parents of children with disabilities.

Civil Society, Private Sector and Government reflect on the rights of children with disabilities
© UNICEF Mozambique/2012/Alves Talala
A little over 100 people representing various civil society organizations, private sector enterprises, educational institutions and the Government gathered ito discuss the rights of children with disability in Mozambique.

Data from the last census in Mozambique indicate that half of the population is children and that 14 percent of these have some kind of disability, be it auditory, visual, mental or physical. Most of these children face great hardship and do not enjoy their full rights, both in terms of appropriate health care and education adapted to their special needs, which subjects them to discrimination, stigma, marginalization and a reduced level of participation in society.

The meeting aimed to draw society's attention to the problems that children with disabilities face, despite the legal and political instruments that exist for the protection and inclusion of children with disabilities.

At the end of the meeting some recommendations were made to the Government, such as the suggestion to create a specific institution that addresses the issues of people with disabilities; ensure effective implementation of the policy of inclusion of children with disabilities at schools, hospitals, other institutions and in the communities; provide more information to families and communities to better support families with disabilities; and improve access for children with disabilities to services like birth registration, health and education.

In addition, civil society was recommended to help disseminate information on disability and care of people with disability to families and communities, as well as to influence the Government to accelerate the inclusion of children with disabilities and the promotion of their rights.

The event, which was convened and organized by ROSC, is part of a series of reflections and debates promoted by ROSC in support of the promotion and protection of children's rights in Mozambique.

For more information, please contact

Arild Drivdal, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email: maputo@unicef.org

Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email: maputo@unicef.org

 

 
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