Statement by UNICEF Representative, Dr. Bertrand Desmoulins on the occasion of World Down Syndrome Day
SKOPJE 21 March 2014: “Today is World Down Syndrome Day, with the global theme “Health and Wellbeing - Access and Equality for All”. It is a day to draw attention on the rights of children with disabilities, including Down syndrome.
The country has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, which highlight that children with disabilities have the same rights as other children to develop fully.
This calls for a change in the way society sees children with disabilities. Societies need to stop seeing children with disability as being different to 'what is normal', rather accept disability is an ordinary part of human existence.
Societies need to recognize that all people are different and all have different abilities. Inclusive societies accommodate people with disabilities by focusing on ‘what they can do’ and removing the barriers that prevent them from taking up their rightful place as equal participants.
Efforts to remove system barriers have started in this country, but much more work is needed to address attitudinal barriers. Children with disabilities do not need pity, sympathy or charity. They need to be accepted as equal participants in society, capable of claiming their rights, capable of living meaningful lives and making contributions to build inclusive and sustainable societies.”