Thursday, January 31, 2013

EMPLOYABILITY – PROMOTING THE EMPLOYMENT OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES




SPEECH BY THE MINISTER OF LABOUR AND EMPLOYMENT
HON. GAUDENTIA KABAKA
 AT THE FINAL CONFERENCE OF THE PROJECT: EMPLOYABILITY – PROMOTING THE EMPLOYMENT OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
 IMPLEMENTED BY CCBRT AND RADAR DEVELOPMENT WITH FUNDING FROM THE EUROPEAN UNION.
31st JANUARY 2013,
AT HYATT – KILIMANJARO HOTEL, DAR ES SALAAM
Ambassador to the EU, His Excellency Filiberto Ceriani Sebregondi,
Honourable Heads of Mission and representatives from the Diplomatic Corps and development agencies,
Representatives of Associations of People with Disabilities,
Distinguished Members of the Bussiness Community,
Distinguished officials and staff of our partner NGOs, CCBRT and Radar Development,
Fellow Government Officials,
Members of the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be standing here with you all today, sharing the experiences and successes of the EmployAbility project, which has been implemented by CCBRT and Radar Development with support from the European Union.
Initiatives such as this very important project, launched in September 2011 with the aim of promoting the employment of people with disabilities in Tanzania, are welcomed by the Government of Tanzania.
The Government is well aware of the many challenges facing people with disabilities in this country, in particular of the barriers to gainful employment which exist for many of them, and is delighted that a project such as EmployAbility has sought to break down some of the barriers.
Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
We congratulate the project team for its work in this area and fully support activities leading to improved opportunities and conditions for those most in need.
Of course, the Government of Tanzania has itself taken action to address the plight of people with disabilities living in the country. Over the years, specific programmes have been designed to promote vocational training and the employment of people with disabilities.
Ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in November 2009 was another major step forward by the government of Tanzania, as it was a public pledge to increase access to formal employment opportunities for people with disabilities and a commitment to ensuring improved access to education, transport, and infrastructure amongest other rights.
Ratifying the Convention also made the Government of Tanzania accountable, having to report to the United Nation’s Committee on the Rights of People with Disabilities.
Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
The culmination of this clear commitment to the rights of people with disabilities came in April 2010, when Persons with Disabilities Act was passed by the National Assembly. The Act, which the EmloyAbility project team have taken great care in understanding the full implications of, aims to ensure the absolute equality of people with disabilities in-terms of opportunities and access, supporting increased access to education, justice, transport, health and social services, social security and- finally and vitally – formal employment opportunities.
Let us not forget this extremely important provision. In the context of this great project, it is worth reiterating some of the important aspects of the  Act which, can I remind you all, clearly states that “ all employers with 20 or more employees are to reserve at least 3% of the registered jobs for persons with disabilities”.
The legal imperative is there for all to see. Why was it made? Well, have no doubt that the Government of Tanzania understands that a fair and equitable society in which all individuals – including those with disabilities – can participate fully must be one in which socio-economic opportunities are available to all. As the 2010 Act shows, this requires positive discrimination from time to time: actively seeking to champion the cause of people with disabilities. For too long have people with disabilities lacked the opportunities available to others: now is the time to push their case to the fore.
Allow me to repeat the very important provision of the 2010 Act: ALL employers (in all sectors) are urged to reserve at least 3% of their jobs for people with disabilities.
Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
The Government of Tanzania believes strongly that only with such positive discrimination can opportunity be opened up to those most in need.
It is worth stating that the legislation applies equally to the public and private sector: we are all responsible for ensuring that people with disabilities are able to access formal employment. Moreover, we must all ensure that – once in a role – the individual is able to carry out their tasks effectively and with the necessary adjustments or support.
Thanks to EmployAbility project, the partners have addressed the rights, dignity and wants of people with disabilities who are eager to make a real contribution to the Tanzanian economy and society through work.
In the duration of the project, 54 people with disabilities have been placed in full time employment: a great achievement. This is just one element of this diverse and impactiful project. In addition, the project has undertaken extensive awareness raising activities within companies and organisations: clearly a vital step to ensuring that the legislation is understood and that the potential of employees with disabilities is recognised throughout the workforce.
Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
As significant project success has also been achieved in the partnership between the EmployAbility Project and Tanzania Union of Industrial and Commercial Workers (TUICO). It was with TUICO that CCBRT and Commercial Workers (TUICO). It was with TUICO that CCBRT and Radar Development first undertook a survey, in 2010, to assess employment levels for people with disabilities in Dar es Salaam and – through EmployAbility – the relationship has strengthened.
Not only does TUICO now have 32 designated Disability Champions from within the TUICO structure and member companies: it also has a unique Disability Committee tasked with the promotion of the rights of employees with disabilities with clear terms of reference. It is owned and managed entirely by six TUICO members and means that the union is positioned to champion disability issues within and beyond TUICO. Significantly, disability issues have been incorporated into collective bargaining strategies throughout the union and this is an important achievement in itself as it demonstrates a real commitment to the issues of inclusivity.
Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate TUICO on its considerable commitment to disability awareness and to its promotion of the rights of those who have, in the past, been largely forgotten.
Another notable project success was the creation, at the Association of Tanzania Employers’ ‘Employer of the Year’ awards in December, of a disability inclusiveness category. The winner of this worthy award was Tanzania Posts Cooperation. I wonder who will win it next year. It is absolutely an award that companies and organizations should aspire to winning.
All great news so far and, indeed, much progress. However, as the three surveys conducted by the project partners demonstrate, significant gaps remain.
Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
A health sector survey, carried out through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in its headquarters and 19 institutions or departments, found that only 17 out of the 738 employees captured by the survey were people with disabilities.
Similarly, an education sector survey, carried out through the Tanzania Teachers Union in six selected regions of the country and covering 24,555 teachers, found that a mere 519, or two percent, had a disability of some kind.
Finally, a private sector survey was carried out through TUICO in five selected regions of the country. This survey covered 72 companies, 56 national and 16 multinational of more than 50 employees each, and 20,568 individuals employees. It found that just 86 of these, or 0.4% had disability.
The numbers are then low throughout the surveys and – added to this – awareness of the legislation is generally low. On a positive note, many of the managers spoken to were keen to know how to access employees with disabilities and to learn more about their potential contribution to the workforce.
Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
Nevertheless, What is clear is that disability must remain high up the agenda and the promotion of the employment rights of people with disabilities must continue with vigour. Put simply: more needs to be done, and we are all responsible.
We must work together to raise awareness of the employment rights and potential of people with disabilities, and to ensure that employers are fully aware of their moral and legal obligations.
A work place free  from discrimination and in which all have equal opportunities is not only the right thing to aim for, but it also makes economic sense for the nation. Ultimately, if people with disabilities are working, adding to the profitability of a business, and not a financial burden to others, the national economy as well as the individual’s financial position improves. It simply makes sense.
Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
Let me reasure you that the Government of Tanzania recognises the challenges faced by those employers who go down the path of inclusivity. It is no easy path. That is why my Ministry is considering how to support corporate social responsibility initiatives with positive policies and removing barriers.
Because of the Government of Tanzania’s commitment to this issue, we are always honoured to be connected to projects like EmployAbility and hope to see ongoing initiatives in this important area.
When we promote the rights of people with disabilities, enabling them to participate fully in society and to contribute to the economy, we create a healthier, more equitable society for all. Together, we must seek such a transformation and take responsibility for our role in this. It can, and must, be achieved.
Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
I would like to conclude by once again thanking the Organizers for availing me this opportunity to officiate this occasion. With these few remarks I wish you very successful event.
Thank you for your kind attention!

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