SKOPJE, 11 September 2017 – At an event to launch the Macedonian language version of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, the Government, UNICEF and partners united on the need for systematic reforms and attitudinal change to end exclusion, isolation and institutionalisation of children with disability.
The event was opened by the Prime Minister, Mr. Zoran Zaev and UNICEF Representative, Mr. Benjamin Perks. It brought together hundreds from all sections of society – government, civil society, children with disabilities and their families – who pledged their support for the rights of persons - particularly children - with disability.
“We are here today to discuss how to make a society without barriers for children with disabilities. This is fair. But above all this is our duty as people. Because this world belongs to all of us and it will function well when we accept that we are not supposed to create a place for someone, because everyone has a place already. All we should do is to respect the right of everyone to a place in a society that belongs to all,” said the Prime Minister, Mr. Zoran Zaev.
The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health – a tool to change the way we see and respond to the needs of children with disability – was presented. It promises to accelerate much needed reforms to ensure optimum inclusion, fulfilment of potential and quality of life for children with disability. It puts emphasis on ability rather than the barrier of the impairment alone and will serve as a tool to introduce inclusive practices in health, education and social protection.
“Many countries, through systematic reforms and attitudinal campaigns have become places where exclusion, isolation and institutionalisation of children with disability are no longer acceptable. Building on these lessons, we intend to continue our work with government, civil society and media to make sure there is not a single corner of this country where children with disability remain invisible, isolated or excluded,” said UNICEF Representative, Mr. Benjamin Perks.
The event marked the beginning of a new phase of the “Be Fair. For a childhood without barriers” campaign. Initially launched in March with support from the European Union, the campaign has been making a fundamental shift in how society understands disability and in attitudes towards children with disabilities. The new phases “See the child, not the disability” puts emphasis on the need to unleash the potential in every child.
During the event, a panel of children and youth with disabilities gave compelling accounts of the challenges they’ve experienced; and inspired audiences with their abilities, leaving them with a feeling of hope for change. Among the guests were celebrities and influencers who joined the “See the child, not the disability” campaign with messages of support. A children’s choir from the Primary School “Kuzman Josifovki Pitu” accompanied by Ema Ananievska on piano, united all in the room with an inclusive performance of Tose Proeski’ “This World”.
Notes to the editors:
Media are encouraged to embed an info-graphic video – available from https://www.facebook.com/unicef.mk - in online reports to highlight the situation of children with disabilities. It includes numbers showing that around 5.1% of the children in the country have some disability and that for far too many of them, the chance to participate simply does not exist. Many are excluded from education and social life. Only 28.3% of the children with disabilities attend primary school and as little as 4.7% go to preschool. They make up more than half of the children growing up without love in state run institutional care.