An estimated 21 million children with disabilities live in the Middle East and North Africa. Each of them – like every child in the world – has the right to be nurtured and supported through responsive care and education, to receive adequate nutrition and social protection, and to enjoy play and leisure time. Too often, however, such rights are denied. The reasons vary. They include stigma, lack of accessible services, institutionalization and physical barriers, but the consequences are sadly consistent. When marginalized from society, the chances for these children to survive and thrive are diminished, along with their prospects for a bright future.
Monitoring the inclusion of children with disabilities in development efforts has long been held back by the lack of reliable and comprehensive data. Recent years, however, have seen renewed efforts to fill these data gaps. The development of new data collection tools has resulted in a substantial increase in the availability and quality of data on children with disabilities, fostering new analyses and contributing to increased knowledge generation.
This report is a testament to these efforts. It includes internationally comparable data from four countries in the Middle East and North Africa and covers 18 indicators of child well-being – from nutrition, health and education to protection from violence, exploitation and discrimination. It also presents global and regional estimates of children with disabilities drawn from more than 1,000 data sources, including 95 from countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
The report’s objective is to promote the use of these data to make children with disabilities in the region more visible, bringing about a fuller understanding of their life experiences. It offers evidence crucial to decision-making to fulfill obligations, both moral and legal, to give every child an equal chance in life.