Nearly 240 mn children worldwide living with disabilities: UNICEF

The number of children with disabilities globally is estimated at nearly 240 million, according to a UNICEF report

Nov 10, 2021
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Nearly 240 mn children worldwide living with disabilities: UNICEF

The number of children with disabilities globally is estimated at nearly 240 million, according to a UNICEF report. The new estimate for the number of children with disabilities is higher than previous estimates, and is based on more meaningful and inclusive understanding of disabilities, which considers difficulties across several domains of functioning, as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression, said UNICEF.

"From access to education, to being read to at home, children with disabilities are less likely to be included or heard on almost every measure," said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore in a press release.

The report includes 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 from violence and exploitation, and education.

Compared with children without disabilities, children with disabilities are 42 percent less likely to have foundational reading and numeracy skills; 49 percent more likely to have never attended school; 41 percent more likely to feel discriminated against; 32 percent more likely to experience severe corporal punishment.

As for access to education, the report finds children with difficulty in communicating and caring for themselves are the most likely to be out of school, regardless of education level.

UNICEF is calling on governments to provide children with disabilities with equal opportunities. Governments must work together with persons with disabilities to eliminate the barriers that keep them out of society, and ensure birth registration; inclusive health, nutrition, and water services; and equitable education and assistive technologies. They must also work to eradicate stigma and discrimination against children with disabilities.

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