Eradicate discrimination against disabled children
VIOLENCE, abuse, exploitation and neglect continue to impede children with disabilities from fully participating in all aspects of society.A report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) titled The State of the World’s Children Report 2013 — Children with Disabilities launched recently made this and other startling observations.While the report seeks to bring global attention to children with disabilities, it also exposes the social stigma that has resulted in children with disabilities being ostracised by society by denying them access to health, education and social services.“Discrimination on the grounds of disability is a form of oppression,” the report said, noting that multiple deprivations lead to even greater exclusion for many children living with disabilities.There is not much data on the number of children living with disabilities, what disabilities these children have and how it is affecting their lives. As a result, few governments have dependable guides for allocating resources to support children with disabilities and their families.Most disturbing is the fact that some people see disability as a burden in a country where there is a common perception that any form of disability could be a nishment, curse or some abomination.In societies where they are stigmatised, many children with disabilities are not even able to obtain an identity document. Their births go unregistered because they are not expected to survive while many parents refuse to accept them because they are often considered a potential drain on available resources.The UNICEF report acknowledged that marginalisation often begins at birth, which too often goes unregistered.
And despite being one of the first African countries to come up with legislation to protect the rights of people living with disabilities, disability issues are not a priority in Zimbabwe considering that children living with disabilities are denied access to health, education and social services compared to their peers.As long as children with disabilities are denied equal access to local schools, governments cannot reach the Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal primary education, because on paper all children have the same right to education although in practice children with disabilities are overly denied this right, said the report. Disabled Women in Africa coordinator, Xoliso Msebele, said the country was very far from achieving Millennium Development Goal II because there is lack of political will, while disability is still viewed as a medical issue.“There is need for mainstreaming gender and disability at all levels.
Disability must not be a one – ministry issue, but it should be seen as a cross -cutting issue and there is need to have an active and functional desk in all ministries to cater for people living with disabilities,” she said.Msebele urged disability lobby organisations to continue raising awareness on issues of gender and disability.Given opportunities to flourish, children with disabilities have the potential to lead fulfilling lives and to contribute to the social, cultural and economic vitality of their communities.... Read the full, comprehensive news article and discuss at The Financial Gazette