RI Regions

Middle East & Africa (MENA)

As COVID-19 has had a global influence for more than a year and a half now, it is important to note how individuals with disabilities are unlikely to be impacted by the pandemic, including health, education, job, social, and economic aspects. While the whole world was on a halt because of covid-19, we were expecting that people with disabilities became a priority in the world especially on the health level. However, concerning the MENA region this was not the actual case, people with disability are still facing tons of barriers regarding several facets. Let’s take Lebanon for example, since the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccination people with disabilities came at the bottom of the chain, many efforts were done to help in prioritizing the vaccination. On the other hand, people with disabilities face many obstacles concerning online education which is not suitable to the needs of children. Regarding the employment, as there are currently no legislation or employment rules in many nations to encourage inclusive employment and when legislation exists, there is a lack of execution.

In addition to a lack of a comprehensive inclusive employment policy with an enforcement mechanism and clear roles and responsibilities, there is a lack of awareness (on the part of employers and society) of issues such as pre-conceptions, discrimination, stereotypes, pity, bullying, and exploitation, as well as a lack of suitable work environments and insufficient data on inclusive employment. Employer regulations and job-related information are also poorly communicated to people with intellectual impairments. In addition, clients’ tolerance and understanding when dealing with People with disabilities are lacking.

While employment has always been an issue for people with disabilities in the MENA region, COVID-19 pandemic did not help people with disabilities to keep their job in most of the time. There have been several organizations in different Mena Countries that are trying to help with the issue, in Egypt, KSA, Jordan, Lebanon and UAE. For example, creating awareness initiatives for society and employers, as well as media and political efforts. Furthermore, strong contacts with future employers must be established and potential employers consulted on accessibility and work environment modification. Moreover, Empowerment and training of persons with disabilities. And the provision of services and programs for job-seeker preparation, job opportunities and open job market follow-up.

Excluding people with disabilities from social and economic activities has a detrimental impact not just on the people involved, but also on their families and communities. Integration and adaptation of persons with disabilities into the labor market are essential strategies to decrease both public expenditures and family costs, as well as to secure handicapped people’s involvement in productive employment. Developing policies and strategies to integrate people with disabilities into all elements of social and economic life, such as education, rehabilitation services, and work, would benefit not just the person, but society.

Leadership

Hashem Taqi

Vice President, MENA

H.E. Abdulla A. Al Humaidan

Deputy Vice-President, MENA

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