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Opening Statement for the Colours of My World Art Competition Press Conference


By Wivina Belmonte
UNICEF Representative, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, 10 June 2013

A very good morning to

Ms. Low Ngai Yuen, Executive Director of Kakikreatif at Kakiseni

Cik Maisarah and Cik Yasmin from Pos Malaysia

Ms. Ida Nerina, one of the honourable judges of the competition

Honoured members of the media, esteemed guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you for making the time to be here today to mark a very important and creative initiative for children, the Colours of My World art competition organised as a collaborative effort by Pos Malaysia, Kakikreatif and UNICEF.

Colours of My World is not just any drawing competition. This art competition provides a space for children with disabilities to showcase their talent and achieve the recognition they deserve, AND it is an eye opening way of seeing the world through their perspective – it is empowering for them, and revealing for us.

The Colours of My World art competition is timely. A week ago today, UNICEF launched our annual flagship publication in Malaysia – the State of the World's Children – which this year focuses on Children with Disabilities.

This report is a departure for UNICEF. In previous Reports, we typically start with a statistic, highlighting a global problem that afflicts children.

The girls and boys to whom this edition of the State of the World's Children is dedicated to, are not problems.

A child is not disabled because they cannot walk, see or hear. They are disabled by a society that excludes them. So our report this year brings attention to OUR blind spot – as we remind ourselves that we need to see the child, before the disability.

It is a tragic irony that children who so often stand out because of their disability – who are so often targeted because of their disability – subject to teasing, to stigma, to humiliation, to violence – are too often INVISIBLE when it comes to policies, services and compassion.

No one group has its right compromised more consistently or more cruelly, than children with disabilities. When they're not objects of pity, they're frequently targets of abuse. Discrimination on the grounds of disability is a form of oppression. It pushes children and their families to the margins, and subjects them to multiple deprivations;

§ Globally, they're three to four times more likely to be subjected to violence than other children.

§ Children with disabilities experience multiple challenges, including difficulty in accessing education and an increased risk of violence, abuse and exploitation.

§ Left off birth registers, hidden behind closed doors, shut away in institutions and stigmatised, they are too often over-looked and under-estimated.

They're not only excluded. They're forgotten.

This is why, on behalf of UNICEF, I am very happy to be here today, not only as part of this collaborative effort but also in support of an initiative that creates yet another space for children with disabilities to express themselves. This competition provides evidence, should we need it – that What is most important are the abilities that define these children -- not their disabilities. Every child can be an agent of change and participate in society, if they are given the chance and the space to do so.

The reason so many of YOU are here today is because you share our conviction that when we see the disability before the child, it is not only wrong for the child, it also deprives society of all that the child has to offer.

All of us have a role to play in removing barriers to inclusion and participation as well as providing a loving and nurturing environment to better support children with disabilities and their families.

Let me close – by reminding each and every one of us that -- children are not disabled because they cannot see, read or hear, they are disabled because society excludes them.

Every child has something to contribute, as long as they're given the chance. And I, for one, can't wait to see the dazzling entries that will be submitted to this competition.

Thank you.


For further information, please contact:

Indra Kumari Nadchatram,
UNICEF Media, Malaysia
(+6.03) 2095 9157
+6012 292 6872

Sasha Surandran,
UNICEF Media, Malaysia
(+6.03) 2095 9154 ext. 2236
+6012 658 5160





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