International Day of Persons with Disabilities

240 million children with disabilities in the world need to be seen, counted, and included

02 December 2021
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December 3, 2021:UNICEF works to build a world where children and youth with disabilities reach their full potential, growing up healthy, educated, protected from harm, heard, and engaged in their communities. This is central to our mission to realize the rights of every child and leave no one behind. Today on International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we celebrate the contributions and potential of all children with disabilities.

UNICEF’s newly launched disability statistical analysis reports there are 240 million children with disabilities in the world. Compared with children without disabilities, children with disabilities are:

●             24 per cent less likely to receive early stimulation and responsive care.

●             42 per cent less likely to have foundational reading and numeracy skills.

●             53 per cent more likely to have symptoms of acute respiratory infection.

●             49 per cent more likely to have never attended school.

●             47 per cent more likely to be out of primary school

●             51 per cent more likely to feel unhappy.

●             41 per cent more likely to feel discriminated against.

●             32 per cent more likely to experience severe corporal punishment.


The new global estimate for the number of children with disabilities is higher than previous estimates and is based on a more meaningful and inclusive understanding of disabilities, which considers difficulties across several domains of functioning, as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression. Read the report here:


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On the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, UNICEF calls on governments to:

Provide children with disabilities with equal opportunities. Governments must work together with persons with disabilities, professionals working with children, and businesses and organizations to ensure:

  • All services are inclusive and accessible: Birth registration, early childhood development, education, health, nutrition, immunizations, water and sanitation, and social services must be accessible and inclusive of children with disabilities and their families throughout their lives, wherever they may live, in times of stability and emergency. 
  • Education is inclusive and accessible: All aspects of education must be made accessible to support the learning and development of children with disabilities, including accessible learning materials and inclusive curricula, securing assistive technologies, training teachers and administrators, as well as providing accessible infrastructure, recreational spaces, water and sanitation facilities, and transportation.
  • Stigma and discrimination are eradicated: The voices of children with disabilities are supported and amplified by investing in evidence-based, multi-level strategies to address negative attitudes and ableism towards persons with disabilities; enacting policies that combat institutionalized stigma and discrimination; and empowering children, families and communities to inspire positive culture change.

It is essential to consult persons with disabilities and consider the full range of disabilities, as well as the specific needs of children and their families, when providing inclusive services and equitable quality education, by: 

  • Promoting responsive caregiving, family-friendly policies and prioritize programmes at the community level to enable families to care for their children with disabilities at home, or to provide family-based alternative care settings.
  • Making the support services accessible to children with disabilities and their families by being integrated into community-based healthcare, schools, protection and justice services, and spaces for children and young people affected by emergencies.
  • Supporting child protection systems and workforces to become disability-inclusive and enhance their capacities to prevent separation of children with disabilities from their families, end institutionalization, and prevent and respond to violence, exploitation, abuse, neglect & harmful practices against children with different types of disabilities.



Media contacts

Nineta Popovic
Communication Officer
UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina
Tel: +387 33 293 600


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

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