By Bayan Nalubwama
In a bid to increase the opportunities for persons with disability to be able to seek employment and increase their livelihood, Light for the World organization in partnership with Federation of Uganda Employers and Uganda Business and Disability Network organized a career workshop between job seekers with Disabilities and potential employers within the private sector.
In an event that was held at Hotel Africa on December 3, during the commemoration of the International Day of Disabled Persons 2021, employers were asked to adjust equal treatment towards their workers.
This is because some employers, bring people with disabilities on board but fail to ensure that the work places also favor the disabled.
While addressing a group of journalists at the event, Mr. Silvester Kasozi, the director for Light for The World in Uganda said that the workshop was to help employers who are struggling to get persons with disability on their teams connect with the PWDs, bring them closer and also develop their databases.
“But also, it’s an opportunity where employers with persons with disability share their experiences such that others can also bring them on board. It is also another opportunity to let them know of the support that we have so that we can journey with them on trying to make it easy for persons with disability to join the organization. We have a fully fleet program where we have disability facilitators that help organizations asses their inclusion, make plans and have persons with disability on board.” He said
Adding: “In Uganda we have about 2.6 medium persons with disability and 15% of those, are without employment.This increases the cycle of poverty because without employment, it means you have no income, you cannot educate your kids, you cannot look after the family, you cannot have self esteem and if your children cannot go to school it means as they grow up, they will also be as poor or poorer than you are so it’s a lot of things that employment and having an income can improve in the life of a person with disability,”
Silvester also believes that whereas the government has very good policies, little is done to entice organisations and employers structurally to bring them on board with persons with disability.
“We should ideally have some very good tax policies for employers who have people with disability on board and this will encourage them to bring on board as many as possible. Our challenge is we have the policies but the implementation is still lacking. We are bringing together several actors, private sector, Civil society and government institutions. Hopefully, one ore two who are here can bring others on board but I think the most important thing for all actors to know is that we are here and we have the expertise and if anybody needs it, we are ready and willing to help.” He said
Fagayo Mustaphar, HR specialist at the Federation of Uganda Employers said that he is impressed with how the PWDs are bringing out the notion that disability is not inability as some have started their own businesses while others have grabbed the opportunities and got employed in the private sector.
“Initially, the society in Uganda believed that people with disabilities are actually vulnerable people and they should be helped. Unfortunately some of our people who are living with disabilities took that as something that should push them on as being vulnerable people, they should be just given. The society where we live believes that a person with disability is vulnerable and should just be given. I am happy that people living with disability have abandoned the notion of being given and they are empowered with information, they have gone to school and initiatives like these career affairs have helped so many to get Employed,” He said
“We have put some budgets aside for cooperate social responsibility, to give out to the community so whoever fails to maybe apply for the job, what they do is give him/her a small package. Our role is create awareness, go to these companies, tell them these people can perform and also to tell them that there companies that are committed to employ these people with disabilities and that is why it is important to sign up for the UBDN. When you sign up for Uganda Business Disability Network, your are actually making a commitment that you will employ people with disabilities.” He continued to say
Fagayo further encouraged the PWDs still living in the era where they think that being disabled is complex to come out and face their fears, take on the world of work and become performers like those who are already working.
Tony Achol, a self employed person with disability said he is thankful for the workshop, he however said that they still find a lot of challenges to get jobs because physical access is still very hard for many of them.
“There is still discrimination by some Employers. People with disabilities lack skills and confidence to seek employment. The workshop is a great opportunity since Employers meet with job seekers.” He said
Norah Nabatanzi, a counseling and guidance graduate from Kyambogo University says she has attended the workshop more than once because she hasn’t received the opportunity she yearns for. Employers have refused to take her in even as a volunteer.
She says some Employers still look down on people with disabilities. Hopeful Nabatanzi says any employer willing to take her on should contact her on +256784669473.