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Social Protection

UNICEF Image: Sudan, 2006: Osman Idris Abu Bakar, 9, walks on a crutch through an alley at the Abu Shouk camp for displaced people.
© UNICEF/Sudan/Shehzad Noorani
Osman Idris Abu Bakar, 9, walks on a crutch through an alley at a camp for displaced people.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) places obligations on States to recognize the right of every child to an adequate standard of living for their proper development, to support parents in realizing this right and to take necessary measures to achieve the full realization of every child’s right to benefit from social security. 

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) additionally requires States to adopt measures to support children with disabilities living in the community, including through social protection programmes, as well as a duty to make all essential services inclusive of and accessible for persons with disabilities.

Social dimensions of vulnerability such as gender, ethnicity, HIV status, geographic location, and disability fundamentally shape people’s exposure to risk and their resilience.  They can also be barriers to accessing secure livelihoods and essential services like health and education. In this context, social protection programmes can improve living standards and households’ access to services, thereby ensuring inclusive and equitable development outcomes. 

Given the strong linkages between disability and poverty, there has been a growing interest in mainstreaming disability in social protection interventions. Evidence clearly indicates that persons with disabilities are more likely to live in poor households, have limited access to employment opportunities, and have lower education enrolment and attendance rates. 

People with disabilities may share a number of experiences that reduce their access and/or demand for services: discrimination and stigma, traditional social norms preventing use of services, limited resources, visibility, inaccessible programmes etc. Alongside an adequate supply of services, social protection can help address these causes of exclusion thereby preventing the generation of secondary impairments as well as the transformation of an impairment into a disability. 

Inclusion is one of UNICEF’s key principles in social protection programming. Mainstreaming disability into social protection implies making adjustments in the design and implementation of programmes and policies in order to address the specific vulnerabilities associated with disability. 

This may include:

  • Adjusting targeting mechanisms, benefit frequency and benefit size to account for the added costs associated with treatment, care and mobility that people with disabilities face;

  • Choosing an appropriate mix of interventions, including in-kind transfers, to promote access to services and adequate nutrition;

  • Undertaking policy reform to prevent discrimination in accessing services;

  • Considering specific barriers to accessing benefits (visibility and identification; and physical access to payment centres) and using innovative approaches (mobile centres, community workers, etc.) to enhance access;

  • Implementing complementary awareness raising and outreach efforts, including referral services




It's About Ability

From the field

Montenegro's "It's about ability" campaign promotes the inclusion of children with disabilities into society. Story  - Music Video

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