New report: Unequal opportunities to participate for children and young people with disabilities
4 Feb 2021
Nordic studies reveal that children and young people with disabilities do not have the same opportunities as their peers. They describe an everyday with less opportunities to participate in social activities. They are frequently overlooked in decision-making and they seldom have a say in matters that concern them. Read more about both the challenges and countermeasures in our new report See, listen and include – Participation for children and young people with disabilities in the Nordic region.
The report (in Norwegian, which will be available in English later this month) explores the universal right of all children and young people to participate, to express their views and to be heard in all matters concerning them. The aim of the report is to provide insight and knowledge about ways of ensuring the right to be heard for children and young people with disabilities in the Nordic region. The report also highlights some of the most common obstacles to participation that children and young people face in various areas of their life.
You have to be strong to get your rights. The weakest children and young people with disabilities don’t always get the help they need, but the strongest do. It’s difficult to get the right help if you don’t speak the language of the system. – Nordic youth delegate
Several social actors play a key role in ensuring participation for all. The report describes the roles and responsibilities of key Nordic actors. The report has been written in collaboration with Nordic experts and includes input from Nordic youth delegates.
Lack of access to important arenas
– One of the reasons why children and young people with disabilities do not have equal opportunities is their lack of access to arenas and settings that are important for them. Insufficient knowledge and competence among key personnel is another significant factor in terms of opportunities for participation and influence, says Merethe Løberg, author of the report and Senior Adviser at the Nordic Welfare Centre.
– Children have knowledge about themselves that no one else possesses. When we fail to listen, see and involve children and youth we are neglecting their rights and increasing the likelihood of misjudging their needs, Merethe Løberg explains.
Good methods and tools to ensure inclusion
The report presents research and best practice on how to ensure inclusion and participation. Most of the methods presented are transferable. They can be used in all the Nordic countries.
We need to explore in more detail how we address structures in society that limits accessibility and participation. It can be incredibly demanding to get your own initiatives up and running, so it is sometimes easier just to stay at home on the sofa and watch TV. – Nordic youth delegate
Equal opportunities for development and participation of all children and young people are prerequisites for a sustainable Nordic region. The report is a part of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ action plan on disabilities, 2018–2022, for enhanced knowledge and dialogue on human rights and disabled people in both the Nordic region and internationally.
– The Nordic countries are conducting both systematic and knowledge-based initiatives to ensure participation of children and young people with disabilities in multiple arenas. In an international context, the Nordic region has made significant progress in its work to comply with UN Conventions and has adopted an active and inclusive welfare policy. Nevertheless, it is evident that we have a long way to go in several areas to ensure the right of every child to be heard, says Merethe Løberg.
– The work to ensure participation and inclusion for all children and young people requires knowledge-based initiatives. There is a need for an in-depth study of the methods and practices we use to ensure their involvement and participation, in order to identify which procedures actually work, she says.
Expectations on children and young people with disabilities are too low. There are too many prejudices and ignorance regarding what is required to, for example, work with people with disabilities. – Nordic youth delegate
– The Nordic Welfare Centre hopes that this report will provide increased insight into the opportunities and commitments involved in the work on participation of children and young people with disabilities in the Nordic region. One of our most important goals in our Nordic Action plan for Vision 2030 is to ensure a socially sustainable future. An important task is to ensure the best possible living conditions for our children and youth. They are our most valuable recourse, and they are our hope for the future. The goal is equal opportunities for participation and development for all children and young people, concludes director Eva Franzén at the Nordic Welfare Centre.
The report will be presented in our webinar See, listen and include! Participation for children and young people with disabilities in the Nordic region on 23 March 2021.
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