Nepal WASH Blog Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) & Development in Nepal

December 30, 2013

Second career expo for persons with disabilities

Third December is celebrated worldwide as an International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This celebration helps promote awareness on disability issues and rights. This year the global theme for the day was “Break barriers, open doors: for an inclusive society and development for all”.

As a part of the celebrations, Nepal’s Ministry of Women Children and Social Welfare, National Federation of the Disabled Nepal (NFDN), UNICEF, Association of International NGOs in Nepal (AIN), and Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FNCCI) in association with came together to organise the second Career Expo for People with Disabilities on the 13 December. The aim was to promote employment opportunities for persons with disabilities in Nepal.

The Expo turned out to be a great platform to change employers’ perceptions on disability. This was important because most of them are not aware about people with disabilities who have marketable skills that could be of value to organisations. As such, the Expo provided an opportunity to communicate to prospective employers that there are qualified and capable people with disabilities who are willing to be productive and valuable employees.

Mock-up toilet for People with Disabilities demonstrated at the expo

As a member of AIN, WaterAid Nepal took part in this career expo. In partnership with Bajra and Bajra, a supplier of sanitary hardware, it created a demonstration toilet that was aimed at influencing the mindset of those who design and build public spaces such hospitals, schools, cinema halls and shopping malls. Many participants with disabilities came by the stall, wheeled their wheel-chair around and were very happy to see that WaterAid promoted such inclusive WASH services for the disabled.

It may be recalled that the first Career Expo was held in December 2012. It was successful in that it resulted in 28 people with disabilities receiving jobs from for-profit and non-profit sectors. It also brought forth many skilled people with disabilities into the fold of the job market. This, I felt, was a remarkable achievement. This is important because there was a time when the employers were not looking for people with disabilities, for they thought that such people were of no use. Career expo for the disabled, which showcases human talents, helps dispel such myths and misperceptions. Still, the journey to change perceptions has slowly begun.

After attending the second Career Expo I came to know that some employees with disabilities had left their jobs due to lack of disabled-friendly infrastructures and toilets at their forther offices. When I was hired as a Consultant for Equity and Inclusion (E&I) at WaterAid Nepal, I was also worried. The first question that came to my mind was, “Will I be able to use the toilet easily?” I was worried that I would not be able to go the office, if the toilets were not disabled-friendly.

However, my worries were soon gone when I found WaterAid’s Nepal positive attitude towards people with disabilities. I work on the ground floor, with a ramp near the entrance, and this arrangement has made it easier for me to move around. There is also a toilet on the ground floor that I am able to use. I have to admit that it is not completely disabled friendly yet, but I can manage, and that a complete disabled-friendly toilet is being made on the premises. This positive attitude of WaterAid and the overall disabled-friendly environment that colleagues here share is helps me perform and work effectively.

People with disabilities need to feel equal in terms of exercising their rights. These people do not need sympathy or charity. But they do look for ramps and friendly toilets because these are not expensive to create and install, and they are part of our broader human rights. Investing in a few related infrastructure yields higher productivity from employees with disabilities, for they tend to be hardworking, sincere and determined to prove their worth to the employers.

This year’s career expo, like the one last year, went a long way to encourage both the prospective employers and the employees to find one another and benefit in ways that helps the both parties.

Amrita Gyawali works as a consultant on Equity and Inclusion at WaterAid Nepal

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