Barriers to Access and Retain Formal Employment for Persons with Disabilities in Bangladesh and Kenya
Nusrat Jahan and Catherine Holloway
This working paper was developed to support the development of challenge statements for a GDI Hub innovation challenge fund call related to improving access to and retention of employment for persons with disabilities in Kenya and Bangladesh and is written by GDI Hub's Nusrat Jahan and Professor Catherine Holloway.
The issue of disability and employment has taken centre stage on the global arena in part because it is recognised across several areas of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, in which confrontation of extreme poverty in its many manifestations is the number one goal . The World Health Organization (2011) reports about 15 percent of the world’s population has a disability . In developing countries, 80 to 90 percent of people with disabilities of working age are unemployed.
Globally persons with disabilities have lower employment rates compared to the general population due to systemic barriers particularly in the formal sector. In developing countries, 80 percent to 90 percent of people with disabilities of working age are unemployed. There has been limited research in low-income and middle-income countries focused on the barriers to access and retain formal employment for persons with disabilities. The aim of this paper, based on desk research, is to analyse the barriers to access and retain formal employment of persons with disabilities which are framed in three categories according to where the barriers primarily manifest: 1. In the workplace among employers and co-workers without disabilities, 2. Among persons with disabilities seeking or engaged in formal employment and 3. In the wider social, physical and policy environment. Although the study mainly focuses on Kenya and Bangladesh other countries’ literature on access to and retention of employment of persons with disabilities were reviewed where relevant. In the current context where the global pandemic is breaking barriers to remote working one part of the solution will be to empower persons with disabilities with appropriate access to Information and Communication Technology, assistive devices and services, digital skills, creating more accessible and inclusive digital platforms for persons with disabilities which also hold the potential to improve working conditions and productivity for the whole workforce as well as enhancing resilience to potential future shocks.