The Sustainable Development Goals were developed by the United Nations in 2015 to provide a framework for global development efforts. Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG 5) aims primarily at achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.
While the goal is praiseworthy, it is manifestly seen that there are still impediments that prevent female children with autism and disabilities from adequately participating in the society. These children are often marginalized, discriminated against, and excluded from education, health care, and other essential and beneficial services.
This exclusion is not only unfair but also has serious consequences on the children and their families, as well as the society as a whole.
The Sustainable Development Goal 5 is linked to various aspects of development, including education, health and economic empowerment, however, the inclusion of female children with autism and other similar disabilities is often overlooked.
In this article, we will explore why the inclusion of these children is so important and how it is linked to SDG 5.
Autism is a developmental disorder that affects communication, social interaction and behaviour. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 54 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism.
Autism is more commonly diagnosed in boys than in girls, with a ratio of around four to one. However, recent research suggests that autism may be under-diagnosed in girls and that the actual ratio of boys to girls with autism may be closer to two to one.
Children with autism face a range of challenges, including difficulties with communication, social interaction, and sensory processing. They may also have specific interest or repetitive behaviours.
Children with autism may find it challenging to engage in routine activities and socialize with their classmates as a result of these difficulties.
In addition, many children have other disabilities that affect their daily lives which includes physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities and mental health conditions. Like children with autism, children with disabilities face a range of challenges and may require extra support in order participate in everyday activities.
- Implication of the Exclusion.
Autism and disabilities affect a substantial part of the world’s population. According to World Health Organization, one in six people worldwide has some form of disabilities, and autism affects one in 160 children.
However, female children with autism and disabilities face unique challenges that are often overlooked. They are more likely to be excluded from education, have limited access to healthcare, and experience social isolation.
These challenges are exacerbated by cultural attitudes and gender stereotypes, which often lead to discrimination and stigmatization.
The attainment of SDG 5 is significantly affected by the exclusion of female children with impairments and conditions like autism, as a result, these children are unable to attain their full potential due to lack of equitable access to services like education, healthcare, and other necessities.
Such children may be unable to participate in the workforce or contribute to society and therefore impede economic growth and development.
Furthermore, harmful stereotypes about girls and women are fostered by excluding female children with problems like autism from the classroom.
- Importance of the Inclusion
The inclusion of female children with Autism and other disabilities is important for several reasons. These are;
1. Human Rights
It is first and foremost a problem of fundamental human rights. Regardless of their abilities or impairments, all children have the right to actively participate in society. In essence, excluding the disabled children is a deprivation of this fundamental right, in complete disregard of the fact that the right is universal.
2. Equal Access to Basic Good Living
The inclusion of female children with autism and other disabilities is connected to SDG 5. To achieve gender equality and empowerment, all women and girls require addressing the specific needs and challenges of women and girls with disabilities.
Girls with disabilities are more susceptible to prejudice, maltreatment, and neglect. We can ensure that these girls have equal access to resources such as education, healthcare, and other services by involving them in development initiatives.
3. Societal Benefit
The inclusion of female children with autism and other disabilities benefits the society as a whole. These children have unique perspectives and talents that can contribute to the social, cultural and economic fabric of their communities. In other words, an attempt of excluding them is to the effect of we missing out on their potential contributions.
- Achieving the Inclusion
In order to achieve the inclusion of female children with autism and other disabilities in the pursuit of SDG 5, several steps need to be taken and these are accordingly discussed below:
1. Creating Awareness
There is a need for greater awareness and understanding of autism and other disabilities. This includes understanding that girls can also have autism and that the presentation of autism in girls may be different from that in boys.
It also includes understanding that disability is not a barrier to participation in society and that children with disabilities have unique strengths and abilities.
Families and communities must be educated about autism and disabilities and the importance of inclusion. Many families are not aware of the resources and support available to them, and may not understand the value of including their children in the society.
Education and awareness campaigns can help change attitudes and promote the inclusion of female children with autism and other disabilities in the society.
2. The Role of Sectors
Promoting the inclusion of female children with autism and other impairments requires the involvement of the private sector and civil society. This may include providing employment opportunities, promoting inclusive hiring practices, and advocating for policies that support this inclusion.
Furthermore, there is need for greater collaboration between different sectors and stakeholders. Achieving the inclusion of female children with Autism and other disabilities requires the involvement of families, educators, healthcare providers, policy makers, and community members.
By these sectors working together, we can develop comprehensive and coordinated strategies to address the specific needs of these children.
3. The Role of Government and Policy Makers:
It is of high importance that the governments and policy makers of countries, must acknowledge the unique challenges faced by these children, and prioritize their inclusion in national policies and programs. This includes ensuring access to education, health care, and other essential services.
Governments should also work to eliminate discrimination and stigma against female children with Autism and other disabilities and promote their social inclusion.
The inclusion of female children with autism and other disabilities is a critical component of achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5 and other sister Goals.
Achieving the inclusion of female children with autism and other disabilities is crucial for achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5. This requires a coordinated effort by governments, families, communities, the private sector, and civil society to break down barriers and promote inclusion.
By working together, we can ensure that all children, regardless of gender or disability, would have equitable access to education, health care, and other important services so as to realize their full potential.
About the Author
Israel Adebiyi is an undergraduate student of law at Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti with a penchant for Commercial Law Dispute Resolution, Intellectual Property, Human Rights Law and Energy Law. Israel has been able to demonstrate interest in these areas of law through membership in related societies, internships, volunteering and participating in several seminars.
He can be reached via the following mediums: [email protected], 09064005464, biyi_mar[email protected], Adebiyi [email protected] and Israel Adebiyi @LinkedIn