November 2, 2023 | Thursday
In a landmark collaboration between the European Union (EU) and UNICEF’s Kosovo Programme, a campaign has been set in motion to champion the inclusion of children with disabilities within the country. This initiative, rooted in the ‘Protecting Vulnerable Children in Kosovo’ project, is EU-funded and fervently advocates for more inclusive public spaces, high-quality care, and an end to discrimination.
Stretching over 22 months, the campaign will be omnipresent, making waves both online and in various municipalities across Kosovo. This project, hand in hand with the Office of Good Governance, hopes to give voice to the rights of these young ones. A highlight includes emphasizing the upcoming draft Law on the Status and Rights of Persons with Disabilities, signaling an imminent and necessary transformation in Kosovo’s legislative approach to disability rights.
Adding a touch of artistry to amplify the campaign’s message, a “knot” installation was unveiled in Pristina’s heart. Representing the intricate challenges faced by children with disabilities, this symbolic structure was open for public viewing for a week. It aimed to be more than just an art piece – it stands as a beacon of change, encouraging parents and children to call for inclusivity within their societies.
Speaking at the inaugural event, Johannes Madsen, the EU’s Head of Cooperation in Kosovo, said: “This pivotal campaign embodies the collective vision of the EU, UNICEF, and the Kosovar people. We’re united in our quest to foster inclusivity for children with disabilities, striving to dismantle existing barriers and uphold their rights.”
Echoing these sentiments, Ms. Nona Zicherman, the Head of UNICEF in Kosovo, added: “Our partnership with the EU underlines a shared conviction: every child, irrespective of their abilities, deserves opportunities to flourish. We urge parents, partners, and policymakers to rally behind this initiative, ensuring that every Kosovar child experiences true inclusivity.”
However, the challenges remain. Children with disabilities often grapple with the healthcare and education systems’ inadequacies. Despite 8% of children having functional challenges in at least one domain, a mere 3,965 are currently enrolled in primary education. Furthermore, the unemployment rates are dismal, with almost 31.7% of the youth (aged 15-24) neither employed nor in education or training as of 2022.
With this campaign’s launch, there’s hope that these numbers will change, bringing a brighter, more inclusive future for Kosovo’s children.