Seen, Counted, Included: Using data to shed light on the well-being of children with disabilities

January 2022

Millions of children with disabilities around the globe continue to be left behind, despite the near-universal ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the call for action embedded in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the clear mandate set by the Sustainable Development Goals. Often, this neglect is the result of limited data. When absent from official statistics, children and adults with disabilities remain politically and socially ‘invisible’, increasing their marginalization and exposure to rights violations.

Recent years have seen renewed interest in generating reliable and internationally comparable data on children with disabilities. This has led to the development of new tools for data collection, including the Child Functioning Module, released by UNICEF and the Washington Group on Disability Statistics in 2016. It has also resulted in a substantial increase in the availability of data on children with disabilities over the last five years, fostering new data analyses and contributing to increased knowledge generation.

Using the latest available data, the publication covers more than 60 indicators of child well-being – from nutrition and health, to access to water and sanitation, protection from violence and exploitation, and education. The report also includes the first-ever global and regional estimates of children with disabilities.


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Executive summary






Key findings:

Compared with children without disabilities, children with disabilities are:

For every child, inclusion

The extent to which children with disabilities are deprived, feel discriminated against and lack hope for the future makes it clear that societies are not doing enough to realize the most basic human rights of all children. As a result, the vicious cycle of exclusion and disadvantage that leaves children with disabilities behind continues.

Including children with disabilities in all aspects of life must be a priority. Every child, everywhere, has something to offer. His or her energies, talents and ideas can make a positive difference to families, communities and the world. The report seeks to increase the inclusion of children and young people with disabilities worldwide by ensuring they are counted, consulted and considered in decision-making.