UNICEF released the State of the World’s Children 2016 Report

UNICEF released the State of the World’s Children 2016 Report
Shilpika Srivastava

The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) on 28 June 2016 released the State of the World’s Children 2016 report. The data in the report show that, unless the pace of progress to reach them is accelerated, the futures of millions of disadvantaged and vulnerable children will be jeopardized.

Key highlights of the State of the World’s Children 2016 report

• The report mentions that unless the world focuses more on the plight of its most disadvantaged children, by 2030: Almost 70 million children may die before reaching their fifth birthdays. Children in sub-Saharan Africa will be 10 times more likely to die before their fifth birthdays than children in high-income countries. Nine out of 10 children living in extreme poverty will live in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 60 million primary school-aged children will be out of school. Some 750 million women will have been married as children.

• The report also indicates that significant progress has been made in saving children’s lives, getting children into school and lifting people out of poverty.

• Global under-five mortality rates have been more than halved since 1990.

• Boys and girls attend primary school in equal numbers in 129 countries.

• The number of people living in extreme poverty worldwide is almost half what it was in the 1990s.

• The number of children who do not attend school has increased since 2011. A significant proportion of those who do go to school are not learning.

• About 124 million children today do not go to primary and lower-secondary school. Almost 2 in 5, who do finish primary school, have not learned how to read, write or do simple arithmetic.

• The report also points that investing in the most vulnerable children can yield immediate and long-term benefits. For example, cash transfers have been shown to help children stay in school longer and advance to higher levels of education.

• For each additional year of schooling completed, on average, by young adults in a country, country’s poverty rates fall by 9 per cent.

India in the report

• The report states that five countries will account for more than half of the global burden of under-five deaths. These countries are India (17 per cent), Nigeria (15 per cent), Pakistan (8 per cent), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (7 per cent) and Angola (5 per cent).

• The average annual rate of reduction in neonatal mortality required for India to reach the target is almost double the current level.

• In India, being born into the poorest households carries a learning ‘penalty’ relative to children from the richest households. The penalty widens between ages 7 and 11, reaching a 19 per cent gap in students’ ability to subtract.
• By age 11 in India, girls and boys who come from the richest homes and have educated parents enjoy a huge academic advantage over other children.

World Economic Forum released the Human Capital Report 2016

World Economic Forum released the Human Capital Report 2016
Shilpika Srivastava

The World Economic Forum (WEF) on 28 June 2016 released the Human Capital Report 2016.

The WEF prepared the report in collaboration with Mercer, an American global human resource and related financial services consulting firm.
The report presents an analysis by focusing on a number of key issues that can support better design of education policy and future workforce planning. The Human Capital Index 2016 ranks 130 countries on how well they are developing and deploying their human capital potential.

Top ten Countries in the Human Capital Index are:

Finland (1)
Norway (2)
Switzerland (3)
Japan (4)
Sweden (5)
New Zealand (6)
Denmark (7)
The Netherlands (8)
Canada (9)
Belgium (10)

Bottom ten Countries in the Human Capital Index are:

Lesotho (121)
Senega (122)
Côte d’Ivoire (123)
Burundi (124)
Guinea (125)
Mali (126)
Nigeria (127)
Chad (128)
Yemen (129)
Mauritania (130)

India’s position in the Human Capital Index

• India occupied the 105th position among the 130 countries surveyed in the Index. In 2015, India’s position was 100th among the 124 countries surveyed in the Index.
• In the Asia-Pacific region, it is placed behind Sri Lanka (50), China (71), Indonesia (72), Iran (85), Bhutan (91) and Bangladesh (104).
• India has secured 62nd, 98th, 106th, 119th and 120th position in the 0 to 14, 15 to 24, 25 to 54, 55 to 64, and 65 and Over categories respectively.
• It has also ranked poorly on labour force participation. However, it received solid rankings on Quality of education system, Staff training and Ease of finding skilled employees indicators.

About the report

The Human Capital Index assesses Learning and Employment outcomes on a scale from 0 (worst) to 100 (best) across five distinct age groups to capture the full demographic profile of a country:
• 0 to 14 years: The youngest members of the population for whom education is assessed among the most critical factors
• 15 to 24 years: Youth for whom factors such as higher education and skills use in the workplace are assessed
• 25 to 54 years: The bulk of the labour force, for whom continued learning and employment quality are assessed
• 55 to 64 years: The most senior members of most workforces for whom attainment and continued engagement are assessed
• 65 and Over: The oldest members of the population, for whom both continued opportunity and health are assessed

10 activists changing lives for disabled people around the world

Campaigning for human rights at the UN

Gertrude Oforiwa Fefoame, Sightsavers, Ghana

When I saw I was nominated to be elected on to the UN committee for the rights of persons with disabilities, I felt so proud. Though I’m disappointed not to be elected, I’ve learned so much from the process. As a young girl in Ghana I started having a progressive sight loss. I had to write my exams with a small hand magnifying lens that could take just three letters at a time. Nobody knew how the future was going to be. I went to a school for the blind, wanting to become a teacher for students with special educational needs. But as soon as I entered the school, people said: “You are at a school for the blind, what a pity, you are doomed!” For myself, I didn’t see a change. I didn’t think I had become a different person. Now there is so much hope around. I’m more motivated, more energised as each day goes by. In Ghana there is now a minister who has a disability, but other activists are not prioritising the disability issue enough. Why do we have to remind people all the time that there is a reasonable percentage of the community who have disability? AL

Supporting people with albinism

Peter Ogik, chair of the Source of the Nile Union of Persons with Albinism, Uganda

There is much stigma attached to albinism. I was was the first person to be born with albinism in our family, and in the whole community. Most people didn’t want to be associated with us because they used to say I was a curse. It became a hard life. But I went to university and tried to show how people with albinism can make change in communities, and how they can look after their skins (98% of people with albinism have skin cancer and die before reaching age of 40). I wanted to become an activist for the voiceless and show the potential of people with disabilities. I know this work is not easy, but what gives me hope is that at least we have started changing their attitudes. I do awareness-raising through music, entertainment, documentaries and I’m organising an international albinism event to try washing away the myth. After all, it’s just a skin that is missing the colour, but we have the potential to do everything. NL

Advocating for the rights of people with disabilities

Silvia Quan, lawyer and activist, Guatemala

There are still many challenges for disabled people in Guatemala. I faced a lot of discrimination when I acquired my visual impairment as a student in the early 1990s. I tried several times to find a job, and I was always rejected because when I showed up for the interview people just saw that I was blind and would not even try to interview me. I was so frustrated and thought people with disabilities would be facing similar and even worse types of discrimination. That’s why I started getting involved in human rights. Guatemala is very poor country, and services are not widespread or good quality. I got involved in the disability field more than 20 years ago, but when it comes to inclusion we are almost at the same spot. Dealing day to day with human rights violations and trying to change people’s lives by having those violations be subjected to the justice system really is something I feel very satisfied by. Even if I changed one or two lives I feel that was important. I would like people with disabilities not seen with pity, but as equal participants in society. NL

Challenging employer discrimination in Kenya

Changing perceptions in society takes a lot of time, and it requires you to form allies. At Action Network for the Disabled, we go directly to human resource managers and explain different types of disability to them so that they can be aware. That works because it is mostly lack of information that makes people not hire people with disabilities. People were saying that it’s hard to find individuals with disabilities who are qualified, so we took this as a challenge and have now formed an online portal, Riziki Source, where persons with disabilities register and state their qualifications and which type of a job they are looking for. On the same portal an employer can sign in and we can match them with three or four CVs. There is a tendency for people to think that people with disabilities are looking for charity, that we always want to be helped. But that’s really not the case. People just want to be given the same opportunities as their sisters and brothers. AL

Getting young disabled people into work

Bahati Satir Omar, Uwezo, Rwanda

I run an organisation that empowers children with disabilities in Rwanda called Uwezo Youth Empowerment.  I was graduating from high school and thought I would become a doctor, but all of a sudden I lost my sight and I couldn’t join university immediately. I thought that I would end up begging on the street. But then I went to school for six months to learn how to read and write braille. In one year I was up on my feet again and then I learned about blind life and how I could help. I started different events around the country and in the region on disability rights awareness and promotion. Our first project was supporting youth with disabilities to secure employment through six-month paid internships. We have put around 45 youth with disabilities into internships. Today, in only a year and a half, 20 of them are employed. As an activist, I feel there is much need to be done in mainstreaming disability in all national, regional and global development programmes by setting clear and financed disability related indicators. All our hopes are now directed to the SDGs trusting that no one will be left behind. AL

Providing support for victims of conflict

In many conflict, or post-conflict countries, people with disabilities are seen as a burden to their families and society. That was very extreme in Afghanistan during the Taliban regime. I stepped on a landmine and lost my legs when I was 13. It took me about six months to recover, and I then started to learn about disabilities – the rights, the services – and I’ve been involved in advocating for the rights for people with disabilities ever since. I used to face discrimination – for example, I went to university and one of the principles of Kabul university told me: “You’re disabled, why would you like to study?” That was tough. But in 2007 I founded an NGO called Afghan Landmine Survivors’ Organisation with a couple of friends. This self-help group was the only association of people with disabilities in Afghanistan. I wanted to provide peer support, because I’m convinced it’s one of the best ways to provide psychosocial support for people with disabilities. Hundreds of people have been supported so far. My hope is that needs and rights of disabled people should be counted as one of the national priorities. That will slowly change the behaviour and perception of all people with disabilities in Afghanistan. NL

Pushing for inclusive education

I’ve worked on a number of rights issues and now, with Light for the World, I advocate and promote the rights of people with disabilities, including inclusive education. Once children get the right to education, they can demand the right to employment, transportation and other basic rights. I lost my eyesight when I was five. Being blind in a poor and rural part of Ethiopia was not without its challenges, but I also think it was my opportunity. I joined a special boarding school for the blind that was about 800km away from home, before joining a mainstream school when I was 11 years old. This world belongs to all of us and we all deserve to be treated equally. Children with disabilities aren’t the only ones who benefit from inclusive education, everyone in the classroom does. There are a lot of assumptions about people with disabilities; many people think about the one disability and forget about the 99 abilities a disabled person has. But in my life, I have seen change happening. It gives me hope that people understand that equality doesn’t mean sameness. I think the more challenges we have, the more innovative minds there will be to tackle them better. I believe that one day we will have a world for all. KP

Raising awareness about deafblind people in India

It’s a shame to think that the outside world will take many more years to ensure that information is accessible for deafblind people. Technology is the key, and I use my computer and mobile phone to communicate all over the world. But here in India new challenges keep coming up and all too often changing technology is not accessible. For me, understanding anything has been much more difficult because of a lack of information in an accessible format. Tactile sign language is essential and all my colleagues have learned it to be able to communicate with me. It’s frustrating that our government’s response to our advocacy has not been very encouraging. There are no initiatives to create awareness about deafblindness, and we still do not have any government data on how many deafblind people are in our country. We have been successful to ensure deafblindness is included as a distinct disability in the draft national disability bill, but it was drafted in 2011 and we still await its fate in parliament. My achievement in life gives me hope for all other deafblind friends. I want to encourage them through my experience of overcoming challenges to get recognised, communicate, participate and contribute. We deserve what everybody else is entitled to and we must raise our voice to ensure that. AL

Changing mindsets in India

A turning point in my career was when I realised that my boss, who I had only met virtually, was paralysed all the time I had known him. That made me think about how I could use technology to benefit people with disabilities. The most challenging part so far has been working with the government of India to ensure that they understand the need. It is an ongoing battle. The proudest moment for me was when Maharashtra state made it compulsory for every department to have a scheme for procuring disability access products and websites should be disabled friendly. The mindset of the people is something that frustrates me. We have about 100 million people with disabilities in India but the industry hasn’t yet accepted accessibility as a solution. Most companies only cater to the needs if it’s a mandate. We need to build an inclusive world where every person has access to everything. People need to change their attitudes. AL

Fighting for inclusivity on a global scale

There is a social stigma in Bangladesh that creates a lot of problems for all people with disabilities, especially children. I completed my master’s in economics and then applied for public service jobs, but I was denied work because in Bangladesh people with disabilities were not allowed in the service. For ADD International in Bangladesh, I worked with people with disabilities in rural areas, visited their homes to try to understand their stigma, and then we created a programme to change these attitudes. We worked with the government to ratify the convention of the rights of persons with disabilities, and that was a turning point at a national and local level. Now the SDGs have been adapted to be inclusive, so in the next 15 years all will change – only 10% of children with disabilities were enrolled in school during the MDG period. I want children with disabilities to go to schools that are accessible, with teachers who are properly trained, so in the future they can be educated and treated well at every level of society, and their disability will not be a factor of their lives. NL


Gender & Disability

WOMEN with disabilities face triple discrimination the world over on the basis of disability, gender and poverty. They are the most marginalised of all population groups including men with disabilities. The negative stereotyping of women with disabilities puts them at greater physical risk as they are exposed to neglect, emotional abuse, domestic violence and rape.
According to the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programmes, 83pc of women with disabilities will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, while the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation in South Africa reports that these women are less able to escape abusive caregivers.
The 2011 World Report on Disability indicates that the global female disability prevalence rate is higher at 19.2pc against 12pc for men because women are discriminated against since birth in terms of nutrition, immunisation and medical interventions. The global literacy rate for women with disabilities is 1pc with only 20pc of them getting any rehabilitation services. They are paid less than their male counterparts at work, given fewer loans for education or self-employment, and face stronger barriers in accessing vocational training, leisure facilities and justice.
With these global givens, it is not surprising that in Pakistan where being female itself is debilitating, women with disabilities live at the very peripheries of society, differentiated and unequalised by a culture that is patriarchal, religiously obscurantist and anti-women. The family, community, institutions and the state — the touchstones of human civilisation — are arrayed against them. Seventy per cent live in rural areas in the most appalling conditions where even provision of rehab services and assistive devices is discriminatory, making everyday living a challenge in itself.
Disabled women languish in the darkest corners.

Disability should not be a stigma, but accepted as a natural human condition by all the protagonists — people with disabilities, families, communities, civil society and the government. Last year, Madeline Stuart became the world’s first model with Down’s syndrome to appear on the catwalk at the New York Fashion Week. Television channels and social media networks should use social marketing to influence social behaviours and raise awareness about disability in collaboration with educational institutions, while women’s groups should initiate membership drives focusing on women with disabilities in order to empower them.
A great deal of work has been done at the international level under the aegis of the UN to create a comprehensive legislative and policy framework for a rights-based and barrier-free inclusive society.
Apart from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ESCAP has taken a number of initiatives, among which are the Biwako Millennium Framework for Action and Biwako Plus Five, the Bali Declaration adopted by Asean, the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, the Beijing Declaration on Disability-Inclusive Development, and the Incheon Strategy, to accelerate action during the current Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013–2022.
The Incheon Strategy also mandates member states to report triennially on the progress made on its time-bound and measurable goals.
Despite these international commitments and provisions in Articles 25, 37 and 38 of the Constitution, women with disabilities continue to languish in the darkest spaces in Pakistan, uncounted and uncared for. It is imperative for the government to take visible and affirmative action to ensure that its image at least in the international community is not further tarnished due to inaction on this front. A high-profile policy dialogue with organisations representing people with disabilities should be arranged to discuss legislative and implementation mechanisms in line with UN conventions and the Incheon strategy, along with the formation of a specific parliamentary body to carry out this task.
There is no data on persons with disabilities in Pakistan as no serious at¬¬tempt has been made since 1998 to conduct a census to assess their numbers. The government needs to initiate compilation of gender-disaggregated disability data, include the disability dimension in all policymaking and budgeting exercises, and encourage the private sector to promote disability-inclusive business practices.
It is not rocket science to advise public-sector banks to float disability-friendly loans, fix job quotas for women with disabilities, subsidise the use of new technologies, introduce tax rebates for their families as is being done in India, and make BISP conditional upon the safety, education and vocational training of the disabled. Instead of signal-free roads, the government should set up fully equipped community resource centres to provide them opportunities for mobility, training and leisure time.
However, at present, all federal government structures relating to these critical constitutional and human rights issues stand disempowered after the 18th Amendment. If the government wishes not to remain within the confines of Islamabad, it will need to reclaim its lost spaces by acknowledging its responsibilities towards this most marginalised of communities groups in the country.

Disha NGO to start Toys and Games Bank

A Toys and Games Bank is being started by DISHA- a local NGO. This was announced at the closing of a summer camp for underprivileged children, organised by DISHA, at Sukhna Enclave near Kaimbwala 10 days back.
Thirty children between 5-10 years of age belonging to families of labourers, care takers and domestic maids participated in the camp. During the camp the children were given education on environment conservation, importance of sanitation, personal hygiene, general knowledge and other creative Arts. Two doctors Dr. G.Verma, Retd. Joint Director from Haryana Government and Dr. Piyush Madan examined the children and offered free consultation during subsequent consultations also. The children were provided snacks, cold drinks, fruits and other refreshments each day by some member of Disha or Sukhna Enclave Society.
Six teenagers from well to do families managed and conducted the camp, preparing cultural items and engaging the camp in various activities. The six-Kumari Ridhima, Aksh, Shreya, Manan, Vishwani, and Riya were conferred certificates for their contribution along with mementos.
Sh. Vinod Mittal, President Sukhna Enclave Residents Welfare Association distributed prizes to winners of different competitions for the camp. Dr. Monica Singh, Professor Department of Social Work Panjab University narrated her experiences in Social Work and distributed certificates to leaders of the camp.
Smt. Simrat Joshan, President of Disha gave a brief account of activities of Disha. Disha an NGO for Social Change and Development is working for women development, child welfare and supporting the disabled. Disha is recording audio books for the blind at its recording studio.