Empowering through Employment

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"Do you eat?" asked a teenager to my visually impaired friend who was baffled by this question, as if she was from another planet. It is very common for physically disabled people to face such circumstances. This shows the extent to which differently abled are marginalized by the society.

According to UNDP, 80 percent of the population with disability live in developing countries. The World Bank estimates that 20 per cent of the world's poorest people have some kind of disability, and tend to be regarded in their own communities as the most disadvantaged. Talking about Nepal, 1.94% of the population are disabled and employment rate is minimal.

People with disability equally deserve to live as first class citizens in their own country and at least be given the jobs they are qualified for. Sadly, they are either discriminated or sympathized in work places because employers often fail to look beyond their physical condition. Even disabled people have goals and aspirations and like any of us, they have skills and special abilities that distinguish them from others. If only people change their perspectives regarding them and put effort in empowering them as much as today's youth are focused on then they would have been living dignified lives.

Moreover, the major problem seems to be lack of awareness amongst the able and the disabled as well. People are unaware about the hardships that disabled people undergo, the extra physical and mental burden they have to survive in this competitive world. Due to this, the society has not been completely disable friendly, lack of suitable infrastructure and accessible roads is a major hindrance for them.  Though the government has made some efforts regarding this matter, for example disable friendly road in Bhadrakali and Maitighar, more is yet to be done.

In addition, the government and the private sector should work together and invest more on inclusive development to make roads, public toilets, parks, banks, hotels, offices etc disable friendly, not to profit themselves but to profit humanity. If job opportunities are made accessible and appealing for the disabled, they will feel assured and confident in their workplace, and for once not disadvantaged.  The stigma attached to being disabled will surely lessen once everyone is kept at equal levels and made to socialize.

Furthermore, referring to the lack of awareness amongst disabled people, they seem to be oblivious about the emerging opportunities that can foster their lives. For example, many INGOs and NGOs strive to lift up the current situation of disabled people, have specialized training and programs that can help them to start their own business or even get a decent job. However, the problem remains in conveying the message to people with disability who are uninformed that they can receive help from these organization.  It is therefore essential to deliver the message to disabled people in a convenient and comprehendible manner.

So what can we do as an individual? First and foremost, let us change the stereotypical view we have regarding people with disability and focus on the similarities rather than the differences. 

Position: Communication focal point

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