The Chamber of Deputies and UNICEF: all children have the right to play, to dream, to go to school, to be protected
BUCHAREST, 4 June 2013 - On the International Children’s Day – June 1st, UNICEF in partnership with the Chamber of Deputies and together with the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Protection and Senior Citizens launched the publication the State of the World’s Children 2013 – Children with Disabilities.
The report says that children with disabilities are the least likely to benefit from education, health care, and protection. They are among the most vulnerable to violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect, especially if they are hidden or isolated in institutions because of social stigma and the financial costs of raising them. Children from poor families are less likely to attend their local school or receive health care, while those who live in poverty and also have a disability are even more unlikely to benefit from these basic rights. Gender is a major cause of discrimination as girls with disabilities are less likely to receive proper food and care than boys.
“Ensuring an upgraded legal framework for the rights of children with disabilities and their integration in the society is one of the main focuses of the Partnership that the Chamber of Deputies has started this year with UNICEF. We will make every effort to align Romanian legislation with UN standards and European public policy standards as set forth in the European Disability Strategy,” stated the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Valeriu Zgonea.
The State of the World’s Children 2013 – Children with Disabilities highlights ways for societies to integrate children with disabilities since including them into the society is a win-win situation. For example, inclusive education broadens the horizons of all children while presenting opportunities for children with disabilities to lead a better life. Increased efforts to integrate children with disabilities can help tackle the discrimination that pushes them further to the margins of society. Discrimination on the grounds of disability is a form of oppression, the report stresses, noting that multiple deprivations lead to the exclusion of these children.
Somewhere in the world, a little boy is told he can’t play because he is not able to walk, and a little girl is told that she can’t learn because she is not able to see. That little boy has the right to play, and that little girl has the right and can learn to read. We will all benefit when all children can read, learn and thus build a future for themselves.
“When we walk on the street, we would like to no longer see anyone look away when they see a child with disabilities. All of us – the institutions, the civil society and the community – must carry on the effort to integrate them into the society. Some of them are often real role models for us, fighters who defy disease, disability or rejection from those around them, ” said Mariana Câmpeanu, the Minister of Labour, Family, Social Protection and Senior Citizens.
According to the publication, when society sees the disability before the child, it misses out on what that child has to offer. Unfortunately, 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 all children with disabilities to be included, they need to be registered at birth, to go to school, to see a doctor and be taken into account in everyday life. Both children with disabilities and their communities would benefit if we focused on what these children can achieve – on their abilities and potential,” declared Sandie Blanchet, UNICEF Representative in Romania. “Romania has made progress toward the protection of the rights of children with disabilities, but a lot more still needs to be done for them to be able to play and go to school with the other children, to receive appropriate health care and protection, to make their dreams come true. A first step in that direction was to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We now need to scale up the good practice models that have proved efficient,” added Sandie Blanchet.
Worldwide, 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. According to a 2004 global estimate, 93 million children – or 1 in 20 children under the age of 14 – have a moderate or severe disability. The families of children with disabilities are faced with higher living costs and miss out on opportunities to earn an income.
The report urges governments to ratify and implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to support families so that they can meet the costs of caring for children with disabilities. It also calls for measures to fight discrimination among the general public, decision-makers and providers of such essential services as schooling and health care. Moreover, the publication emphasises the importance of involving children and adolescents by consulting them on the design and evaluation of programmes and services meant to support them.
The social inclusion of children with disabilities is possible, the report says, but it requires a change in perception, recognising that all children have the same rights, that they can be agents of change and can decide for themselves, that their opinions must be heard and included in public policies and programmes and that they are much more than beneficiaries of charity.
About UNICEF Romania
UNICEF is on the ground in Romania and other 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. In Romania, UNICEF works with the Government, the Parliament, local authorities, the civil society, the private sector, national and international partners and the media to provide all children access to high quality early childhood education and schooling, to safeguard adolescents and monitor child rights, to ensure social protection and leverage resources for children. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.