There are 240 million children living with disabilities in the world. Half of them are out of school. Many are invisible, hidden by their families and abandoned by their governments. UNICEF believes that regardless of ability, all children have the right to reach their full potential.
Children with disabilities are one of the most excluded and marginalized groups, and often face multiple challenges in realizing their human rights. Guided by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and aligned to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), UNICEF includes children with disabilities in all facets of its programming.
In partnership with governments, UNICEF implements inclusive programs and services that promote the participation of children with disabilities in society. Integrating supplies into regular programs through market-shaping and procurement mechanisms, UNICEF has rapidly scaled up provision of assistive devices and products, reaching hundreds of thousands of children with disabilities around the world.
In 2020, UNICEF disability-inclusive development and humanitarian programs reached 2.2 million children with disabilities across 144 countries. UNICEF and partners continue to focus on eliminating stigma and promoting the inclusion of children with disabilities and their families in society.
UNICEF won’t stop until every child has what they need to survive and thrive.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, children with disabilities were among the most disadvantaged, facing increased exposure to abuse and discrimination and reduced access to services in many parts of the world. Understanding these pre-existing vulnerabilities can help anticipate how the COVID-19 pandemic could existing inequities and can shed light on where targeted efforts may be required. Learn more.
A growing body of research suggests that the costs of exclusion are high. Fortunately, evidence also demonstrates that there are effective ways to ameliorate these costs. Learn more.
UNICEF USA partnered with Special Olympics in 2015 to advance opportunities for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, to promote their participation and inclusion in society and enable communities to learn and benefit from the acceptance of differences. Learn more.