The goal of decent work is best expressed through the eyes of people. It is about their job and future prospects; about their working conditions; about balancing work and family life. It is about gender equality, equal recognition of the vulnerable groups that includes PwDs and enabling them to make choices and take control of their lives. It is about their personal abilities to compete in the market place, keep up with new technological skills and remain healthy. It is about developing their entrepreneurial skills, about receiving a fair share of the wealth that we have helped to create and not being discriminated against; it is about having a voice in the workplace and in our communities. In the most extreme situations it is about moving from subsistence to existence. For many, it is the primary route out of poverty. For many more, it is about realizing personal aspirations in their daily existence and about solidarity with others. And everywhere, and for everybody, decent work is about security and human dignity.
Historically, people with disabilities have been among the most economically impoverished, politically marginalized, and least visible members of their societies globally. Yet this group represents approximately 10 percent of the world’s population, or more than 650 million people, of who 470 million are of working age. This includes people with physical, sensory, intellectual and psycho-social disabilities. According to UN statistics, 82 per cent of disabled people in developing countries live below the poverty line, and are among the most vulnerable and marginalized in these countries; an estimated 20 per cent of all people living on less than US$ 1 per day worldwide are people with disabilities. Their opportunities to emerge from poverty are limited in many cases by the lack of enabling legislation to promote their access to skills development (including life skills, technical skills and entrepreneurship skills) and employment opportunities. The weak implementation and enforcement measures, of legislation add to the predicament of PwDs in seeking gainful livelihood. Women with disabilities face greater difficulties than their male counterparts or than non-disabled women in earning a living1 and people with disabilities living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) are frequently overlooked in policy and programme measures2.
There is a loss of imagination by the implementing authorities when it comes to employing the PwDs. Experience has also shown that mainstream organizations such as government bodies including NGOs have been less sensitive to this issue. Employment therefore has remained one of the grave concern for PwDs, given the fact that the world views a person’s success synonymous to his/her economic well being which is attained through gainful employment. To that extent every government in the world both in developed and developing countries have to tighten their boots in creating conducive employment and economic opportunities for PwDs. While some of the good practices exclusively for PwDs found in developed countries and developing countries will be discussed in details, a few areas also have been brought into lime light where lies immense potential for economic rehabilitation of PwDs.
Promotion of equal opportunities and creating a non-discriminating environment for disabled people are the main objectives of the PWD Act of any country that aims to protect the rights of persons with disability. One such important area is employment and the provisions have been violated time and again by the governments of several countries. The paper will be discussed in details the possibilities of employment generation citing case studies and good practices of a few countries that includes South East Asian region.
1 O’Reilly, A. (2007): The right to decent work of persons with disabilities (ILO, Geneva).
2 World Bank (2004): HIV/AIDS & disability: Capturing hidden voices. The World Bank/Yale University Global Survey on HIV/AIDS and Disability
Inter-country meeting for Promotion of Inclusivity in Education, Employment, Health & Well being of persons with disability in the South-East Asia Region” – 4th–5th March, 2010, New Delhi
– Samir Ghosh, Director Shodhana Consultancy, Pune