Over the last few weeks, WWDA staff member and a young woman with disability, Heidi La Paglia, has been working with the Commonwealth Children and Youth Disability Network (CCYDN) and the UK based organisation, Include Me TOO to develop a statement with recommendations to address the global impact of COVID-19 on children and young people with disability.

On Friday evening, the CCYDN launched the statement via a webinar, with speeches from young people with disability representatives from around the world, including Heidi who spoke about the experiences of girls and young women with disability. 

Photo of Heidi.

“Throughout the development of this statement, I have been incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to represent the concerns of WWDA and to had them included in the statement… Recommendation 6: Young Women and Girls with Disabilities and Recommendation 7: Safeguarding and Protecting from all forms of abuse and Harmful Practices are particularly important for women and girls with disability, who face specific threats to their rights in the context of COVID-19.”

– Heidi La Paglia

A message from the authors:

We are deeply concerned about the potential impact of the global COVID-19pandemic on the protection of human rights and inclusion of children and young people with disabilities. With an estimation of between 180 and 220 million youth with disabilities worldwide, and an estimation that there are 93 million children with disabilities, of which nearly 80% live in developing countries already one of the most disadvantaged groups. Before the pandemic, they experienced barriers and challenges due to limited accessibility, resources and the negative stigma and discrimination associated with disabilities and impairments.

Children and young people with disabilities and their families need to be part of efforts for disability-inclusive responses and recovery to this pandemic.

Although we recognise the impact of this pandemic, measures to tackle this must respect and protect the human rights of all people. Children and young people with disabilities should not have their rights compromised, as they already have challenges to accessing the right and appropriate support and resources to give them an equal chance to thrive and reach their potential. Progress made towards disability rights and inclusion – such as access to equal and accessible care and treatment to support dignity and safety, inclusive education, lifelong learning, employment, independent living, a right to family life and social protection – should not be undone. To ensure this, the rights of children and young people with disabilities must be respected and protected.

Due to COVID-19, children and young people with disabilities are at risk of being further left without the vital support, resources and advocacy they received prior to the pandemic. We want to increase greater inclusion as there may be opportunities that arise from disability-inclusive responses and recovery as well as opportunities to increase children and young people’s protections on their human rights.

This COVID-19 children and young people with disabilities statement recommendations align with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Global Children and Young People’s Disability Charter.

To support and endorse the statement visit the Include Me Too website.

For more information contact:

WWDA Project Officer

Heidi La Paglia