THE BLOG

Why Being a Girl and Disabled Means Double Discrimination

03/12/2014 15:07 GMT | Updated 01/02/2015 10:59 GMT

Britain's greatest Paralympian Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson wrote in her autobiography: "For me, disability has not been about overcoming things."

Now a Parliamentarian and campaigner in the House of Lords, the 16-time Paralympic medal winner credited her success to a loving and supportive upbringing.

Testament to what can be achieved by people with disabilities, Dame Tanni's remarkable story is a far cry from that of millions of girls across the world for whom being born a girl and disabled means double discrimination.

Girls with disabilities face dropping out of school, staying at home, social exclusion and violence, as revealed today, International Day of People with Disability, by new research from Plan UK.

The new study Include Us in Education! focuses on barriers and enablers to education for children with disabilities in Nepal.

According to the research, when children with disabilities drop out of school, it can have a negative impact on their psychosocial wellbeing.

Many will have faced violence, bullying and discrimination by peers and teachers, as well as in community and home life.

Having dropped out, they are forced to stay at home, leading to limited opportunities to socialise with peers, worsening their isolation.

The research also examines the barriers that children with disabilities in Nepal face when it comes to enrolling, staying in and regularly attending school.

Discrimination begins before they even reach the classroom, with transportation an enormous challenge for many children, particularly those with physical impairments.

Parents also feel the fallout, with schooling costs causing problems, while the time it takes to take their children to and from school is a more persistent barrier.

Children often miss school, drop out or never attend due to poor health or the need for ongoing treatment and rehabilitation that interferes with their learning.

Negative attitudes among parents also pose a barrier, as they question the benefit in sending their child - particularly if they have an intellectual disability - to school.

Even when children with disabilities are enrolled, many still face difficulties, with some citing poor physical accessibility within schools as an issue.

A lack of specialist resources, adapted curriculum and teacher training, particularly in mainstream schools, makes it difficult for many children to learn, while children with intellectual disabilities who had behaviour problems are often asked to leave.

Yet despite all this, children with disabilities say they want to go to school - they enjoy the opportunity to learn and like socialising with their friends.

When children remain resilient in the face of obstacles, they are more like to stay in school. Likewise, if caregivers have supportive teachers and peers, children with disabilities are more likely to stay in school.

This week, Dame Tanni joined our Face Up campaign to end violence and discrimination against girls around the world.

At Plan we believe that getting girls, all girls, to school - keeping them learning and free from violence including child marriage and FGM - is one of the most important things we do.