The girls and boys to whom this edition of The State of the World’s Children is dedicated are not problems. Rather, each is a sister, brother or friend, a daughter or son with dreams and the desire to fulfill them; a child with a disability who has the same rights as any other girl or boy.
Given opportunities to flourish, children with disabilities have the potential to lead fulfilling lives and contribute to the vitality of their communities. Yet surviving and thriving can be especially difficult for them.
Children with disabilities are at greater risk of being poor and often face additional social barriers than their peers. In many countries, support for children with disabilities is largely limited to institutionalization, abandonment or neglect. These responses are the problem, and they are rooted in negative assumptions and ignorance.
What we need is a commitment to these children, their rights and their futures. We need to give priority to the most disadvantaged for the benefit of all.
Reaching every child
As part of the UN, UNICEF works tirelessly to help children and their families wherever they are. We work to ensure government policy and practices provide children, including children with disabilities with health care and vaccinations, clean water, nutrition, education, protection and more. We aim to reach all children, whether separated by distance or discrimination because nowhere is too far to go to help a child.
We can be proud that Canada was amongst the first signatories of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We encourage Canada to not only fully implement the Convention at home, but to use its influence to ensure the Convention is ratified and implemented around the world.
We can also be proud that Canada’s foreign aid includes a focus on children and together we’re making sure more children than ever before survive and thrive. But children living with disabilities often find themselves excluded from the progress Canada is making with its partners around the world. It is in the best interest of these children and Canada to make sure they are not excluded, no matter how hard it is to reach them.