Speaking Up for Albino Children

June 13, 2018

An important reminder to continue advocating on behalf of children who suffer discrimination and exclusion because of the way they look.

June 13th is International Albinism Awareness Day — so proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 2014 to advance equal rights and protections for those living with the condition.

Those with albinism lack pigmentation in their skin. They often suffer from poor eyesight related to a high sensitivity to sunlight, among other impairments that can interfere with learning and participation at school.

And because of the way they look, albino children often face discrimination and exclusion from their peers. In some countries, they are targets of violent attacks

"My childhood memories are a mixed bag of the pain that society can cause when they don't understand a condition, but also the power a family can have when they choose to love a child unconditionally," says Ikponwosa Ero, the UN Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of Human Rights of Persons with Albinism, who grew up in Nigeria. 

Ero adds that she is optimistic for the future due to recent progress on the issue, including greater visibility and awareness, and the adoption of new laws that expand protections for albinos in Malawi:

UNICEF's Fight for Equality

One out of every 20 children aged 14 or younger—93 million kids around the world—are living with a moderate or severe disability of some kind. Many are invisible; excluded from school, hidden by their families and abandoned by their governments.

UNICEF works with partners within countries to change policies and practices to end discrimination and exclusion, and ensure that all children are given equal opportunities to reach their full potential. Learn more about UNICEF's work on behalf of children with disabilities. 

Top photo: "I don't mind that I have albinism because I know that my skin just lacks pigment," says 12-year-old Myrianne of Côte d'Ivoire, shown above left with a friend from school. "I don't have a disease and I'm not from a different race." © UNICEF/UN0150303/Dejongh