Every girl’s right to learn: Why inclusion matters

In developing countries, pervasive gender inequalities prevent many girls from going to school. Unfortunately, this issue is compounded for girls with disabilities, who often face added stigma and discrimination related to their disability.

With an estimated one billion people living with disabilities worldwide, inclusion matters! The Sustainable Development Goals specifically call out the need to create equal, accessible societies for ALL people, and as these global goals aim to transform the world by 2030, Plan International is committed to ensuring girls and boys of all abilities are empowered to reach their full potential.

Meet four girls living with a disability to see how with an education, they’re empowered to overcome stereotypes, and create a brighter future for themselves!

Memunatu, Sierra Leone

Two girls sitting at a desk.“Us children with disabilities know how it feels. That’s why it is important for us to be heard.” – For 16-year-old Memunatu, going to school was challenging. With a physical disability that impacted her ability to walk, she wasn’t able to keep up with other children, and was often ignored. But through Plan’s inclusion program, Memunatu’s school has improved accessibility, teachers received training to help them better support children with different needs, and students – as well as the wider community – learned about children’s rights. Now, Memunatu can gain an education in a supportive environment! She dreams of becoming a nurse so she can help other people living with disabilities.

Pinky, Philippines

Three girls playing.“I am halfway towards my dream. It is possible. There are good people who are willing to help. Persons with disabilities like me have a special place and role to perform…we should not stop dreaming.” – Born with congenital limb deficiencies, 13-year-old Pinky was teased by other children, who called her “broken”. But, with a determination to learn, Pinky’s brother would carry her to school so she could gain an education – refusing to let her physical disability limit her. With Plan’s support, Pinky received a wheelchair and is now able to get to and from school more easily!

SEE ALSO: Every child has the right to education – Especially children with disabilities

Baromie, Sierra Leone

A girl in a wheelchair sitting at a desk.“I see school as important for all children because we all have the right to go to school to be educated so that we can be somebody in the future.” – When 16-year-old Baromie was young, she contracted polio and lost the ability to walk. Without access to health information, her parents didn’t know how to care for her, so they didn’t send her to school. Plan staff started raising awareness in her community, and helped provide Baromie with a wheelchair. Now, her parents are proud to support her education and she’s determined to become a lawyer so she can protect the rights of other children with disabilities.

Naydelin, Guatemala

A girl kneeling on the ground.“We will change our heart and our thinking, we will change our place to be able to understand that we are all equal and there is nobody better!” – 11-year-old Naydelin loves singing these lyrics with her dad! He wrote her this heartfelt song to help improve her self-esteem, and to help her focus on her abilities, rather than her disability. Born with a disability that affects her hip, Naydelin has trouble using her legs. After Plan implemented a community-based rehabilitation program, Naydelin and other children like her received physiotherapy and the support they needed to go to school. Now, Naydelin is growing stronger and goes to school every day!

Empower children living with disabilities

Together, we can help children like Memunatu, Pinky, Baromie and Naydelin go to school for a better, brighter future! Help create inclusive schools and communities through Plan Canada’s Gifts of Hope.