This situation analysis is the first ever study in Myanmar to provide a systematic understanding of the experiences of children with disabilities and their families, informed by robust, qualitative evidence.
Children with disabilities have the same rights as all children. Given the same opportunities to flourish as any other child, they have the potential to lead fulfilling, dignified lives and to contribute to the social, cultural, and economic vitality of their communities. Yet surviving and thriving can be especially difficult for children with disabilities. Across the world, they face challenges as a result of their impairments and the many barriers that society casts in their way.
According to the World Health Organization’s Report on Disability, approximately one billion people in the world are living with a disability, with at least 1 in 10 being children and 80% living in developing countries.
They are often likely to be among the poorest members of the population, to have limited access to education, and to be at greater risk of violence. Their disabilities also often exclude them from receiving proper humanitarian assistance in emergencies.
To address these disparities, a country needs relevant and high quality data to guide policy formulation and implementation Myanmar is no exception. To deliver on their commitments under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which Myanmar signed in 2011, policy makers require solid evidence on which to base their decisions.
This Situation Analysis of Children with Disabilities in Myanmar aims to bridge this information gap. It analyses the current situation of children with disabilities in relation to realizing their rights and accessing basic services, as well as their life experiences in their communities. It focuses on identifying the barriers created by society that prevent children with disabilities from enjoying their human rights. This includes identifying negative attitudes; environmental and communication barriers; gaps in policies or their effective implementation. The report also reveals that children with disabilities in Myanmar are less likely to access services in health or education; rarely have their voices heard in society; and face daily discrimination as objects of pity. It also highlights how inadequate policies and legislation contribute to the challenges these children face.
This study is the result of a close collaboration between the Department of Social Welfare, Ministry of Social Welfare Relief and Resettlement and UNICEF. It also benefited from the generous financial support of Development Partners Australia, Denmark, EU, Norway and the UK under the Myanmar Quality Basic Education Programme (QBEP), for which we would like to express our deepest thanks.
UNICEF hopes that the information available in this publication will be used by policy makers, development partners and Disabled Persons Organisations to promote the realization of the rights of all children with disabilities. The document should also help guide mainstreaming of disability across all of our policies and programmes, both in development and humanitarian action, to improve the quality and inclusivity of social services provided.
This Situation Analysis is thus an attempt to make visible what is otherwise kept invisible – the plight of children living with disabilities. In this way, the analysis can inform positive responses to disability in Myanmar, and strengthen our joint commitment to the rights of these children, and their inclusion and participation in the lives of their communities,– as a matter of principle, equity, and for the benefit of all.
Bertrand Bainvel UNICEF Myanmar Representative