Building an inclusive society together in Guatemala

Although Guatemala subscribes to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the government does not sufficiently fulfil its responsibilities towards children with disabilities. This is according to research on the social status of children with disabilities by our partner network Incluguate in Guatemala. Our partners are nonetheless hopeful for change.

Viviana Contreras and Mario Alonzo Teletor presented their report with findings and recommendations to the United Nations Children’s Rights Committee in Geneva on 6 February. Afterwards, Erik Ackerman (director of the Liliane Foundation) received the report at our ‘s-Hertogenbosch office.

Respecting rights

This research by Incluguate makes a substantial contribution to building a just and inclusive society in Guatemala – a society where the rights of children with disabilities are respected and their position within their family, community and society is strengthened. Moreover, with a new government taking office, Viviana Contreras sees an opportunity for concrete change presenting itself.

Conclusions and recommendations

The report analyses the rights and position of children and young people with disabilities in the areas of education and health. It also makes concrete recommendations for the Guatemalan government to respect their rights and structurally improve their social position.

Some conclusions from the report:

  • Stigmas, barriers and inequality have a major negative impact on the lives of children with disabilities.
  • Care and education are insufficiently available and accessible for children with disabilities.
  • The government does not have accurate, up-to-date data on citizens with disabilities.
  • There is a severe shortage of specialised, qualified teaching staff.

To improve the current situation, the researchers make targeted recommendations to the government, including:

  • Develop campaigns to improve public opinion about people with disabilities and promote inclusion.
  • Collect reliable and detailed data on children with disabilities.
  • Develop qualitative, inclusive education.
  • Remove physical barriers in public spaces and embed accessibility in public policies.
  • Empower parents to stand up for the rights of their disabled child.
  • Recognise sign language as a language in its own right.
  • Improve accessibility and availability of health care, especially for children with disabilities in rural and remote areas.

Government’s move

The UN Children’s Rights Committee has offered Incluguate’s research report to the government of Guatemala, along with reports from other organisations advocating for children’s rights in the country. The UN makes its own recommendations to the government and invites them to detail in a government report how they will ensure compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Guatemala.

In their fight for an inclusive society, we stand alongside our partners at Incluguate. A society where everyone has access to inclusive education and healthcare, and where the rights of all children are respected – especially those of children with disabilities.