We live in a world where we do not know definitively how many of the world’s children are disabled. Why? In many countries children who are disabled are kept out of school, are hidden away, are ostracized, are marginalized, and live in dire poverty. While the United States affords the disabled many rights there are countries where being disabled is considered a curse deserving of harsh treatment whether it is killing children who are albinos or sterilizing girls who are mentally disabled.
UNICEF recently released the first-ever report of the world’s disabled children, The State of the World’s Children: Children With Disabilities . The report broadens the scope of disabled children globally and asks key questions about why disabled children worldwide have not only been forgotten by their communities and countries, but also by the global community at large. No one knows the full global story about disabled children, but UNICEF is setting out to change that in order to improve their lives and future.
Here’s what UNICEF does know about disabled children worldwide.
- Children with disabilities are 3 to 4 times more likely to be victims of violence.
- Children with disabilities are at much greater risk of malnutrition and face difficulties accessing clean drinking water and basic sanitation.
- At least a third of the 67 million primary-school age children who are not in school have a disability.
- Girls with disabilities are subject to forced sterilization or abortion.
- Disabled girls attend school the least compared to disabled boys and girls and boys without disabilities.
Movement Toward Change
UNICEF is leading the movement to improve the lives of disabled children around the world starting with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and pledging to include the voices of disabled children in all actions created to protect them. UNICEF is also working to end institutionalization of disabled children, work more with families, coordinate and provide more services for disabled children, and bring on global stakeholders to move the needle on behalf of children with disabilities.
You can read the report on UNICEF.org.