How can we ensure the safety and wellbeing of children with disabilities during humanitarian crises?
The United Nations estimates that nearly 79 million people around the world have been displaced from their homes as a result of humanitarian crises since 2018 (e.g., disaster, war, political unrest). Approximately 40% of those displaced are children. Among this group, children with disabilities are especially susceptible to the increased risk of violence, neglect, and long-term psychosocial distress during humanitarian crises. Unreliable and limited scoping, research, inadequate priority-setting and varying definitions of disability for this vulnerable group make it challenging to ascertain the exact proportion of children with disabilities among the world’s refugee population. Methods to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children with disabilities during humanitarian crises is paramount to enhancing post-crisis recovery, development and capacity-building for future resilience. Growing evidence highlights that investing in inclusive child protection mechanisms, educational and disaster risk reduction programmes is key to improving health and social outcomes for children with disabilities during humanitarian crises.
- Recommendation #1: Improve data collection & registration for children with disabilities in humanitarian settings
- Recommendation #2: Incorporate an inclusive & multi-faceted MHPSS approach to support a continuum of wellbeing
- Recommendation #3: Actively encourage the contribution of children with disabilities towards disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction & child protection mechanisms
- Recommendation #4: Improve coordination and planning to improve access to basic needs & safety
- Recommendation #5: Strengthen education in emergency settings for children with disabilities to better cope and respond to crises
How can we promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in programme design?
People with disabilities make up approximately 15% of the world’s population. Many people with disabilities live in low- and middle- income countries (LMIC), are more likely to experience social exclusion, and socio-economic challenges like poverty, poor healthcare, and social welfare. Yet, people with disabilities are still routinely neglected from the planning and design of international development interventions that seek to improve the lives of people in challenging socio-economic environments. The adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) Article 32 promotes the rights of people with disabilities to be included in all development policies and programmes. In order to fully encapsulate the principles of ‘Nothing About Us without Us’ within development efforts, a strong knowledge base from programmes worldwide is needed to identify effective ways to promote the meaningful inclusion of people with disabilities in the design and delivery of programmes.
- Encourage participation by building in improved systems for disability access
- Seek engagement with a wider and more representative range of people with disabilities
- Strengthen mechanisms to better evaluate disability-inclusion in programme design
- Develop and make accessible opportunities for people with disabilities to gain leadership, research and programmatic skills
- Create, adopt and maintain a collaborative ethos for programming that genuinely adopts the principle of equal partnership
What progress has been made to operationalise the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) framework to promote inclusive employment?
Employment contributes to well-being and dignity. Additionally, it can break the vicious cycle of poverty and the resulting negative mental health. However, nearly two-thirds of persons with disabilities aged 15 years and over are unemployed in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The ratio of persons with disabilities in employment compared to the general population in employment is almost half. Furthermore, among people with disabilities who are employed, two-thirds continue to experience workplace barriers. Inequality and discrimination in employment deprive persons with disabilities of their rights. Goal 8 in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development explicitly calls for “promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.” The United Nations’ ‘Disability and Development’ report highlights the international frameworks relevant to optimize opportunities for persons with disabilities to participate in employment, to achieve Goal 8. This brief will provide an overview of the available literature on LMICs’ efforts to promote inclusive employment underpinned by the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) framework.
- Livelihood & Social Protection
- National legal and policy frameworks should reflect the rights of persons with disabilities and be aligned with the CRPD principles
- Adopt a multi-sectoral approach to formulate and implement policies and programmes for inclusive employment
- Develop clear guidelines to mandate the implementation of policies that promote inclusive employment
- Ensure adequate financial resources are available to support inclusive employment
- Use established tools and strategies to monitor and evaluate the policy implementation
- Invest in future research to inform evidence-based disability related policies
What are the core principles that should be considered in the development of policies and programmes related to persons with disabilities in LMICs?
Globally, over a billion people live with a disability. Nearly 80% live in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Disability is associated with lower educational attainment, lower employment rates, and limited access to health services. The United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is a landmark global treaty, that came into force in May 2008, to realise the rights of persons with disabilities. The UNCRPD brought a paradigm shift in recognising the need to address barriers affecting persons with disabilities across all spheres of life. The purpose of the Convention, as stated in Article 1, is “to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.” However, despite development in some areas, persons with disabilities continue to experience numerous barriers to their full inclusion and participation, especially in LMICs. In this brief, we reflect on literature reviewed across the Disability Evidence Portal to summarise the core principles that need to be considered in the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes that promote inclusion of persons with disabilities in LMICs.
- Livelihood & Social Protection
- Enhance disability inclusion by reducing or eliminating the barriers and/or providing additional required measures to facilitate participation and inclusion.
- Align national policies and programmes on disability with the UNCRPD framework.
- Take a collaborative approach to realising the rights of persons with disabilities, and invest in capacity development to achieve the Sustainable Development Agenda of ‘Leave no one behind.’
- Recognise the influence of intersectionality, and adopt a twin-track approach to promoting disability-inclusive development in all areas including education, health, employment, and social activities.
- Improve and harmonise data collection to inform appropriate programme design and implementation as well as evaluate the impact of policies and programmes, using standardised approaches that allow disaggregated data by disability status.
- Further develop the evidence base to inform and guide policy making.
What works to support girls with disabilities reaching and staying in school?
A recent multi-country analysis by UNESCO revealed that children with disabilities were more likely to be out of school than children without disabilities across Low and Middle Income (LMIC) countries, with some evidence from the available datasets that girl children with disabilities were more likely to be out of school than boy children with disabilities. Access to quality education can break cycles of poverty, decrease risk of violence and increase both access to livelihoods and individual wellbeing. It is therefore vital to understand what works to support girls with disabilities reaching and staying in school. In line with the Sustainable Development Goals, Incheon Strategy and United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, this brief is part of a series on girls’ and women’s empowerment
- Generate better evidence on what works to improve outcomes for children with disabilities overall, and disaggregate this by gender
- Collect more nuanced data on barriers to education among girls with disabilities in specific settings
- Prioritise inclusive and safe sexual and reproductive health support for girls with disabilities in schools
- Involve boys and men in supporting girls with disabilities accessing school
- Think beyond primary education, to support girls with disabilities through to meaningful livelihoods and to mitigate against risk of violence
- Harmonise indicators and outputs to build national baselines and monitor change over time
United Nations. UN Flagship Report on Disability and Sustainable Development Goals (2018)