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Published by Vaishnavi Jayakumar
FULL REPORT Children with Disabilities : SOWC 2013 UNICEF report

FULL REPORT Children with Disabilities : SOWC 2013 UNICEF report


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Published by: Vaishnavi Jayakumar on May 31, 2013
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I was 11 when I went to the insti-

tution with my brother Grisha. I

am now 16. Our mother sent us

there because we did not have

enough money to buy or rent

a house, and she had to work

nights. She came to see us often.

I do not remember the day I

went to the institution. I even

forgot some of my memories of

being there, and I hope in time I

will forget the other ones. I want

new memories, good memories.

At holidays the food was good. It

was also good on other days; we

were fed four times a day. After

eating I cleaned the kitchen.

The teachers taught us to recite

poems and sing songs and

showed us different games.

I know a poem about Gigel

and two about Mother.

We had naptime from 1 to

4 p.m. I would not sleep:

I laughed, talked to other boys.

I put my head on the pillow, kept

my eyes open and looked at the

boys. We were all living in one

room, all 16 boys from my class.

There was one boy, Victor. He

worked in the kitchen. We went

to the stadium nearby. He took

just me to the stadium; he had

bread and sour milk, and we ate

together. When my mother took



the right to express their views and participate

in making decisions, and the right to enjoy equal

protection under the law. They belong at the

centre of efforts to build inclusive and equitable

societies – not only as beneficiaries, but as

agents of change. After all, who is in a better

position to comprehend their needs and evaluate

the response?

In any effort to promote inclusion and fairness,

children with disabilities should be able to enlist

the support of their families, disabled people’s

organizations, parents’ associations and com-

munity groups. They should also be able to

count on allies further afield. Governments have

the power to help by aligning their policies and

programmes with the spirit and stipulations of

the CRPD, CRC and other international instru-

ments that address or affect child disability.

International partners can provide assistance

compatible with the Conventions. Corporations

and other entities in the private sector can

advance inclusion – and attract the best talent

– by embracing diversity in hiring.

The research community is working to improve

data collection and analysis. Their work will help

to overcome ignorance and the discrimination

that often stems from it. Furthermore, because

data help to target interventions and gauge their

effects, better collection and analysis helps in

ensuring an optimal allocation of resources and

services. But decision-makers need not wait for

better data to begin building more inclusive infra-

structure and services: As some have already

found, inclusion involves and benefits entire

communities, and its elements can be applied to

new projects across the board. All that is needed

is for these efforts to remain flexible so they can

be adapted as new data come to light.

The next chapter of this report discusses exclu-

sion and the factors that propagate it, along with

some philosophical and practical fundamentals

of inclusion. Subsequent chapters – each of

which applies the same approach of explor-

ing barriers as well as solutions that show

promise – are dedicated to specific aspects of

the lives of children with disabilities. Chapter 3

examines the health, nutritional and educational

services that can provide a strong foundation

on which children with disabilities can build

full and fulfilling lives. Chapter 4 explores the

opportunities and challenges of ensuring legal

recognition and protection against exploitation

or abuse. Chapter 5 discusses inclusion in the

context of humanitarian crises.

Many of the deprivations endured by children

with disabilities stem from and are perpetuated

by their invisibility. Research on child disability

is woefully inadequate, especially in low- and

middle-income countries. The resulting lack of

evidence hinders good policymaking and service

delivery for children who are among the most

vulnerable. Therefore, Chapter 6 of this report

examines the challenges and opportunities

confronting researchers – and ways in which

children with disabilities can be rendered vis-

ible through sound data collection and analysis.

Chapter 7, which concludes this edition of The

State of the World’s Children, outlines necessary

and feasible actions that will enable govern-

ments, their international partners, civil society

and the private sector to advance equity through

the inclusion of children with disabilities.

Wenjun, 9, walks with her foster mother in China.
© UNICEF/China/2010/Liu

(continued from p. 3)

Children with and without disabilities participate in school festivities in Bangladesh. © UNICEF/BANA2007-00655/Siddique



The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with

Disabilities (CRPD) challenge charitable approach-

es that regard children with disabilities as passive

recipients of care and protection. Instead, the

Conventions demand recognition of each child

as a full member of her or his family, community

and society. This entails a focus not on traditional

notions of ‘rescuing’ the child, but on investment

in removing the physical, cultural, economic, com-

munication, mobility and attitudinal barriers that

impede the realization of the child’s rights – includ-

ing the right to active involvement in the making

of decisions that affect children’s daily lives.

It is often said that when you change, the world

changes. Underestimation of the abilities of

people with disabilities is a major obstacle to

their inclusion. It exists not only in society at

large but also in the minds of professionals,

politicians and other decision-makers. It can also

occur in families, among peers and in individuals

with a disability, especially in the absence of evi-

dence that they are valued and supported in their

development. Negative or ill-informed attitudes,

from which stem such deprivations as the lack of

reasonable accommodation for children with

disabilities, remain among the greatest obstacles

to achieving equality of opportunity.

Negative social perceptions may result in chil-

dren with disabilities having fewer friends and

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