United for Inclusion: Empowering Persons with Disabilities in Myanmar
03 December 2023
On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the United Nations reiterates its unwavering commitment to promoting the rights, dignity, and well-being of persons with disabilities, particularly amidst the complex political and humanitarian landscape of Myanmar. In alignment with this year's theme, "United in Action to Rescue and Achieve the SDGs for, with, and by Persons with Disabilities", we emphasize the need for concerted efforts to dismantle barriers of persons with disabilities and cultivate an inclusive society.
In Myanmar, persons with disabilities, especially women and children, face significant challenges. The 2019 Myanmar Inter-Censal Survey reveals a disability prevalence rate of 12.8%, with states like Chin, Rakhine, and Ayeyawady reporting rates as high as 20.6%. Women and girls with disabilities experience compounded vulnerabilities, including restricted access to essential services and heightened risk of gender-based violence (GBV).
The voices of the estimated 5.9 million people living with disabilities in Myanmar, representing about 13% of the country's population, are not mere statistics but vital narratives that demand attention and respect. Their unique perspectives and experiences enrich our society, and acknowledging their significance is a crucial step towards a truly equitable and inclusive community.
Education and Healthcare: Cornerstones of Empowerment
Education and health are the fundamental right and key drivers for empowerment. The United Nations, working with partners and communities, strives to create an inclusive educational environment, ensuring that every child, regardless of ability, has access to quality education. In conflict situations, special attention is given to providing adapted learning environments that cater to diverse learning needs.
The United Nations is committed to ensuring comprehensive, quality and accessible health services for all, including persons with disabilities. From maternal healthcare, sexual and reproductive health services to mental health and psychosocial support, our programs aim to address the specific needs of individuals including displaced people in conflict-affected areas, leaving no one behind.
Economic and Social Inclusion: Promoting Equality
The United Nations champions economic and social inclusion as a vital pathway to overall inclusivity. We advocate for economic opportunities that fully integrate persons with disabilities, ensuring their skills and contributions are acknowledged and valued in the workforce. Social inclusion is equally critical. Through community engagement and awareness initiatives, we work towards breaking down societal barriers, fostering an environment of understanding and acceptance that embraces persons with disabilities and their rights.
Inclusive Responses in Conflict Situations: Prioritizing the most Vulnerable
In conflict settings like Myanmar, children and women with disabilities face exacerbated vulnerabilities. Displacement heightens their risk and limits access to essential services. They face limited access to critical services, including sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), and an increased risk of gender-based violence (GBV). The United Nations is committed to prioritizing and strengthening protection mechanisms for these marginalized groups with compounded vulnerabilities. This involves ensuring their safety, access to life-saving services, and providing inclusive support systems.
Strategic Approach: Collaboration & Partnership
In collaboration with communities, civil society organizations, and organizations for persons with disabilities, we are mainstreaming disability inclusion in humanitarian responses, addressing the specific challenges faced by persons with disabilities in conflict settings. Our strategic and collective efforts are directed towards creating protective, supportive, and empowering environments across humanitarian-peacebuilding-development nexus.
Aligned with Disability Inclusion Strategy, the United Nations is committed to ensuring inclusivity and leaving no one behind.
United for Action
As we commemorate this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, let us unite in action to rescue and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for, with, and by persons with disabilities. The United Nations remain committed to working collaboratively with partners and stakeholders to build a more inclusive and equitable society where the rights and contributions of every individual are recognized, respected and celebrated.
 2019 Myanmar Inter-Censal Survey
 UN Disability Inclusion Strategy 2022-2025