There are almost 240 million children with disabilities in the world, according to UNICEF’s most comprehensive statistical analysis.

New York, 10 November 2021 The number of children with disabilities in the world is estimated at around 240 million, according to a new report from UNICEF. Children with disabilities are disadvantaged compared to other children by most measures of child well-being, the report found.

Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF, said: “This new research confirms what we already know: Children with disabilities face many and often complex problems in realizing their rights. From access to education, to reading at home , the chances are much lower. “Children with disabilities or their voices are heard, almost all measures. In many cases, children with disabilities are simply left behind. “

The report includes internationally comparable data from 42 countries and covers more than 60 indicators of child well-being – from nutrition and health, to access to water and sanitation, protection against violence and exploitation, and education. These indicators are classified according to the type and severity of the child’s functional problems, the child’s gender, economic status and country. The report highlights the barriers that children with disabilities face in fully participating in their communities and how it often translates into negative health and social outcomes.

Children with disabilities, compared to other children, often have:

  • 24% less likely to have early stimulation and responsive care;
  • 42 percent less likely to have basic skills in reading and arithmetic;
  • 25% more likely to be wasted and 34% more likely to be hindered;
  • 53 percent more likely to have symptoms of acute respiratory infections;
  • 49 percent more likely to have ever attended school;
  • 47 percent more likely to be out of elementary school, 33 percent more likely to be out of high school, and 27 percent more likely to be out of high school;
  • 51 percent more likely to feel unhappy;
  • 41 percent more likely to feel discriminated against;
  • 32% more likely to experience severe physical punishment.

However, experiences of living with a disability are very different. The analysis shows that there are a range of risks and outcomes, depending on the type of disability, where the child lives, and the services to which the child has access. It emphasizes the importance of designing targeted solutions to address inequality.

Access to education was one of many topics examined in the report. Despite widespread agreement on the importance of education, children with disabilities are still left behind. The report found that children who have difficulty communicating and taking care of themselves are more likely to be out of school, regardless of education level. The rate of non-enrollment increases among children with multiple disabilities, and inequality increases significantly when the severity of the disability is taken into account.

“Inclusive education can not be considered a luxury,” said Maria Alexandrova, 20, a young UNICEF lawyer from Bulgaria for inclusive education. “Children with disabilities have long been excluded from society in a way that no child should find themselves. In. My experience as a woman with disabilities underlines this thesis. No child, especially the most vulnerable among them, should struggle alone for the enjoyment of basic human rights. Governments, stakeholders and NGOs must ensure that children with disabilities receive equal and inclusive education for all.

UNICEF works with partners at global and local levels to help realize the rights of children with disabilities. All children, especially those with disabilities, should have a voice on issues affecting their lives, and should be given opportunities to realize their potential and claim their rights. UNICEF calls on governments to:

  • supply Children with disabilities have equal opportunities. Governments need to work with people with disabilities to eliminate physical, communication and social barriers that keep people with disabilities out of society. It must ensure that births are registered; provision of inclusive health, nutrition and water services for all; egalitarian education; and access to assistive technology. They must also work to eliminate stigma and discrimination in all communities.
  • consultation People with disabilities Take into account the full range of disabilities, as well as the specific needs of children and their families, when providing inclusive services and fair quality education.

The analysis seeks to increase the inclusion of children and adolescents with disabilities in the world, who make up 1 in 10 children, by verifying that they are counted and consulted and that their circumstances are taken into account when making decisions.

The new global estimate of the number of children with disabilities surpasses previous estimates and is based on a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of disabilities that takes into account problems across various areas of bodily functioning, as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression.

“People are often excluded because they live out of sight,” she said. Fore said. “For too long we have not had reliable data on the number of children with disabilities. And when we fail to count, consider and advise these children, we have failed to help them reach their enormous potential.”

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