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UNICEF Executive Board

UNICEF Executive Board places focus on children living with disabilities

At a special focus session held by the UNICEF Executive Board, UNICEF Senior Adviser Rosangela Berman Bieler and Chair of the International Disability Alliance Yannis Vardakastanis discuss the work they are doing to advance the rights of children living with disabilities.  Watch in RealPlayer


On the opening day of its second regular session, the Executive Board held a special focus session on children with disabilities. All participants stressed that partnerships are critical to realizing the rights of children of all abilities.

NEW YORK, 4 September 2013 – Children living with disabilities were a major focus of the first day of the UNICEF Executive Board’s second regular session, which opened on 3 September. Their lives, said the President of the Executive Board, H.E. Mr. Jarmo Viinanen, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations, would be the focus of a special focus session on children with disabilities, held on the opening day.

“Too often, the true disability is actually our inability to recognize their true talents,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Their daily struggles for recognition should inspire us to bring down the barriers that keep all children from realizing their full potential.”

Partnerships key to an equitable future

The Executive Board invited the Chair of the International Disability Alliance, Yannis Vardakastanis, to deliver a message at the Special Focus Session. He told the Board members that his organization, which he described as a network of networks, welcomed the opportunity to work closely with UNICEF on behalf of all children through inclusive policies that benefit society as a whole.

“The mainstreaming of rights and participation of persons with disabilities in the post-2015 agenda is crucial to ensuring a future that recognizes the importance of equal opportunity,” he said.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2013-0525/Markisz
Ms. Berman Bieler addresses participants during the Special Focus Session. Beside her on the dais are (left-right) Mr. Vardakastanis and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.

Mr. Vardakastanis told the Executive Board that the impact of barriers on children living with disabilities cannot be overstated. He said that partnerships such as the Global Partnership on Children with Disabilities and the UN Partnership to promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Multi-Donor Trust Fund were key to achieving a more just and equitable future.

“Nothing less than a comprehensive and collaborative effort – by all of us – will ensure the achievement of this goal,” he concluded.

Inclusion and participation crucial

During the Special Focus Session, UNICEF Senior Adviser on Children with Disabilities Rosangela Berman Bieler presented the work that UNICEF is doing with partners to advance its equity agenda by focusing on children with disabilities.

She referred to the 2013 edition of The State of the World’s Children report, which focuses exclusively on children with disabilities. It examines the barriers and lays out key elements of inclusive societies that respect and protect the rights of children with disabilities and nurture their abilities.

Outlining an equity and rights-based approach in UNICEF’s work for children with disabilities, Ms. Berman Bieler stressed the importance of partnerships and a strong focus on inclusion and participation for children living with disabilities.

She also described UNICEF’s hiring practices, stating that the organization was striving to live up to its own ideals. Ms. Berman Bieler concluded that, although UNICEF is a global leader in the field, it remains committed to doing more to reach all children, everywhere, especially those who are stigmatized and left behind.

The regular session of the Executive Board will continue with a discussion of the UNICEF strategic plan for 2014–2017, which will direct the future work of the organization, aimed at realizing the rights of all children, especially the most disadvantaged.

For the first time, UNICEF will mainstream disability into all seven outcomes of the new strategic plan – health; HIV and AIDS; water, sanitation and hygiene; nutrition; education; child protection; and social inclusion.

Video broadcast of the meetings can be viewed on UN Web TV, and session documents and statements can be found on the United Nations PaperSmart Portal.



UNICEF Photography: UNICEF's Executive Board

Video: The State of the World's Children 2013

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