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Adolescents with disabilities denied access to basic education and health services – new report

Written by Nicola Jones

Adolescents with disabilities in poorer countries are being denied access to basic education, health and social protection services due to a severe lack of investment and commitment from governments and donors, a major new report warns.

As leaders gather for the Global Disability Summit in London on Tuesday (24 July), researchers in the Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence programme at the Overseas Development Institute have highlighted the widespread discrimination, stigma and social exclusion faced by adolescents with disabilities in low- and middle-income countries.

The report, ‘Adolescents with disabilities: enhancing resilience and delivering inclusive development’, is based on surveys and case studies with more than 6,000 adolescents, including approximately 600 boys and girls with disabilities, and their carers, in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Palestine and Syrian refugees in Jordan.

It warns young people with disabilities in humanitarian and conflict-affected areas in particular, are often completely confined to their homes, and therefore excluded from family, school and community activities.

Researchers found girls were especially at risk of facing violence and social isolation and were being denied access to sexual and reproductive health information and services.

Experts have now urged governments, donors and non-governmental organisations attending the Global Disability Summit to increase funding for adolescents with disabilities and set out ways to get them into school or provide non-formal education as a minimum.

Nicola Jones, director of the GAGE programme at ODI, said: ‘Our research shows how adolescents with disabilities are more likely to be out of school, suffer significantly poorer health and be subject to verbal, physical and sexual violence.

‘Yet despite all these grim findings, investments for adolescents with disabilities are minimal, poorly coordinated by governments, donors and non-government actors and lack an evidence base to maximise the impact of scarce resources.

‘The Global Disability Summit is an opportunity to dramatically scale up funding and develop ways to support the wellbeing of adolescents with disabilities on the one hand, and to radically shift how society treats young people with disabilities, on the other.’

Notes to editors

  • The report ‘Adolescents with disabilities: enhancing resilience and delivering inclusive development’ is due to be published on Sunday, July 22
  • The Global Disability Summit is being co-hosted by the UK government, the International Disability Alliance and the Government of Kenya in London on Tuesday, July 24

For more information or to arrange an interview with Nicola Jones please contact James Rush on [email protected] or +44 (0)7808 791265