See the child – before the disability, UNICEF says
Despite important progress, full inclusion of children with disabilities still lagging behind in Indonesia
Jakarta, Indonesia, 30 May 2013 – Children with disabilities and their communities would both benefit if society focused on what those children can achieve, rather than what they cannot do, according to UNICEF’s annual State of the World’s Children report.
Concentrating on the abilities and potential of children with disabilities would create benefits for society as a whole, says the report released today.
"When you see the disability before the child, it is not only wrong for the child, but it deprives society of all that child has to offer," said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Their loss is society's loss; their gain is society's gain.”
The report lays out how societies can include children with disabilities because when they play a full part in society, everyone benefits. For instance, inclusive education broadens the horizons of all children even as it presents opportunities for children with disabilities to fulfil their ambitions.
More efforts to support integration of children with disabilities would help tackle the discrimination that pushes them further into the margins of society.
Indonesia has invested in strengthening the legal framework and in improving the opportunities for children with disabilities so they can grow and develop their potential. However, a lot more needs to be done.
“In many instances, families and communities are still ashamed if their children have a disability. These children are often locked away, excluded from school and community life rather than being supported and integrated,” said Angela Kearney, UNICEF Representative in Indonesia.
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 children with disabilities to count, they must be counted – at birth, at school and in life,” said Mr. Lake.
The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities says that children with disabilities are the least likely to receive health care or go to school. They are among the most vulnerable to violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect, particularly if they are hidden or put in institutions – as many are because of social stigma or the economic cost of raising them.
The combined result is that children with disabilities are among the most marginalized people in the world. Children living in poverty are among the least likely to attend their local school or clinic but those who live in poverty and also have a disability are even less likely to do so.
Gender is a key factor, as girls with disabilities are less likely than boys to receive food and care.
“Discrimination on the grounds of disability is a form of oppression,” the report says, noting that multiple deprivations lead to even greater exclusion for many children with disabilities.
Children with disabilities in Indonesia
The same is true for Indonesia. According to the Primary Health Research Survey RISKESDAS 2007, some 4 per cent of 15 to 19 year olds have significant difficulties in at least one functional domain (vision, hearing, walking, concentrating and understanding others as well as self care) and therefore are considered as living with a disability. The Census 2010 found that around 2 per cent of children aged 0 to 14 years have a disability. A two per cent share among all children aged 0 to 18 in Indonesia would add up to 1.5 million children, a four per cent share increases the total number to some 3 million children and adolescents living with a disability.
What needs to be done – The UNICEF agenda for action
Progress is being made toward the inclusion of children with disabilities, albeit unevenly, and The State of the World’s Children 2013 sets out an agenda for further action.
Indonesia signed the Convention in 2007 and ratified it in 2011. However, the government did not yet ratify the related Optional Protocol, which introduces an individual complaints mechanism.
“We ask the Government of Indonesia to sign up to the Optional Protocol and to further strengthen the rights of children with disability. UNICEF stands ready to support the government in developing a new Action Plan for People with Disabilities when the current one expires at the end of 2013. We also hope that this new Action Plan will be fully integrated into the new National Medium-Term Development Plan (RPJMN)”, said Angela Kearney.
The State of the World’s Children 2013 calls for measures to fight discrimination among the general public, decision-makers and providers of such essential services as schooling and health care.
International agencies should make sure the advice and assistance they provide to countries is consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. They should promote a concerted global research agenda on disability to generate data and analysis that will guide planning and resource allocation, the report says.
It emphasizes the importance of involving children and adolescents with disabilities by consulting them on the design and evaluation of programmes and services for them.
"The path ahead is challenging," said Mr. Lake in Da Nang, Viet Nam, for the launch of the report. "But children do not accept unnecessary limits. Neither should we."
To read The State of the World's Children 2013: Children with Disabilities and see additional multimedia material, please visit: http://weshare.unicef.org/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult&PSID=2AM4GJKZZUU&IT=Thumb_Grid_M_Details_NoToolTip
For broadcasters, b-roll and other video material on children with disabilities is available at:
UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: <https://www.unicef.org>.
For further information, please contact:
Nuraini Razak, Communication Officer, UNICEF Indonesia; Mobile: +62 811 9201 654, firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Smerdon, UNICEF New York, Tel: + 1 212 303 7984, Mobile: + 1 917 213 5188; email@example.com