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People with disabilities are people first

Remarks by Anna Solomon, Secretary, Department for Community Development

On the occassion of the launch of 'The State of the World's Childrens Report 2013: Children with Disabilities'

People living with disabilities are people first and like everyone else, they deserve the same set of rights as every citizen of this country. Our national policy on disability emphasises the principles of protection of human rights, inclusiveness, barrier free and partnerships and these must be respected.

Children with disabilities have the same rights and needs as all children. They have the right to survive and thrive, to be included in the lives of their communities and societies, to live healthy lives and reach their full potential, and to become productive members of their society. However, we know that children with disabilities have too often been invisible in policies, in data, and in societies, exacerbating their exclusion and contributing to inequity. They often have less access to services such as health and education, and are more likely to be subjected to neglect and abuse. UNICEF and partners want to change that.

We in the government must tackle the tasks at had without delay and must lead the path for a greater understasing on the fact that disability is not a problem but rather a circumstance. This year’s The State of the World’s Children Report 2013: Children with Disabilities has highlighted seven recommedations that we shall discuss more in the upcomging sessions. They are:

  • Ratify and implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • Fight discrimination and enhance the awareness
  • Dismantle barriers to inclusion so that all children’s environments – schools, health facilities, public transport and so on – facilitate access and encourage the participation of children with disabilities alongside their peers.
  • End the institutionalization of children with disabilities and increased support for family-based care and community-based rehabilitation.

  • Support families so they can meet the higher costs of living and lost opportunities to earn income associated with caring for children with disabilities.
  • Move beyond minimum standards in evaluating supports and services designed to meet their needs.
  • Coordinate services across all sectors so as to address the full range of challenges facing children and adolescents with disabilities and their families.
  • Involve children and adolescents with disabilities in making decisions that affect them – not just as beneficiaries, but as agents of change.
  • Promote research agenda on disability to generate the reliable and comparable data

The State of the World’s Children 2013 argues for inclusive and equitable approaches in such areas as early childhood development, education, health, nutrition, humanitarian response and protection. Based on documented experience and examples, the report  recommends ways in which governments, the private sector, international donors and agencies, and other stakeholders can help advance this agenda.

Among partners of many sectors present today, I am pleased to lauch this year’s report at this consultation meeting with UNICEF to ensure that children with disability are are placed  high in the agenda of this policy dialogue.





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