For earning a respectable livelihood, job is one of the main sources of income for everybody. To get a respectable job in accordance with qualification and experience is another challenge in today’s world. Likewise, proper job for a non-disabled person is comparatively easy but for a person with disability it is second to none. In Pakistan almost every disabled person want to get a respectable job according to his or her qualification, experience and status but a very few are lucky enough to get their dreams fulfil.
It is observed that most of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) were rejected only on the basis of their disability despite the fact that they fulfil all the basic requirements mentioned for the said post. Regretfully, among PWDs, women with disabilities (WWDs) are discriminated against on the basis of gender and their issues remained invisible especially with reference to job employment. They are the most unrecognized, uncounted and invisible members of the society. They do not have voice to fight for their rights, and the idea to enable women with disability to engage in all sphere of life simply does not exist within the Pakistani society. The social taboos constantly stigmatize persons with disability and disabled women suffer the most.
In general, disabled persons in Pakistan, women in particular, are deprived from the basic human rights due to negative perception of the society, scarce education and training opportunities, absence of disabled persons concerns in different policies, limited awareness among society regarding issues faced by the disabled persons, lack of recreational opportunities and limited social welfare facilities. The situation regarding disabled women becomes worse as they are perceived a liability on the family and the society.
Miss Iqra Noor is one such example who only due to her disability could not get any proper job nor in government sector nor in private sector against two percent job quota despite the fact she fulfils all the basic requirements.
While talking to this scribe she informed she is doing her B.Com from Punjab College, Attock and had applied for government job in a number of government departments including Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), Airport Security Force (ASF), Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT), Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) etc. for lower grade but from nowhere she get any reply.
She said she is the only child of her parents and she wants to support her parents in a respectable manner but she still fails to do so. With a sign of grief on her face she regret if she was aware of the fact that she would not get a job after getting her education she would had not went for it. Iqra Noor said presently she lives in Bakra Mandi, Rawalpindi where she also faces discriminatory and derogatory comments from the passerby who’s hooting sometimes, are unbearable and vulgar but she has to live among such vagabonds. She said in our society a women with disability is discriminated more as compared to non-disabled women. She was of the view that if a woman with disability be given respectable job opportunity then her sufferings could be minimized to some extent. Her mother who at the time of interview was also accompanying her told that Iqra is her only child and she is worried about her future. She asked what would happen when her parents would be no more. She demanded the government to establish such shelter homes where such people like her daughter Iqra could be accommodated. She said this would be a great gift by the government to the parents of disabled children and destitute. She hoped that the government, private organizations as well as the philanthropists would think for the welfare of persons with disabilities how to provide respectable jobs to them and a secure place to live with peace of mind. She said since Iqra’s childhood she took special care of her only daughter and she wants to see her daughter to live prosperous and safe life in future too.
Another Miss Saima Aslam who due to her physical disability is strict to her electric wheelchair while talking to Pakistan Special told she did her Bachelor in Science with double maths and statics in 1997 and till then she is continuously applying for government as well as private jobs but no one even bothered to respond her application form. She said presently she is working in an NGO located in Sector I – 10/4, Islamabad where she is looking after its administrative affairs. She said almost every day she receives a number of applications and CVs from persons with disabilities who are wandering from pillar to post for obtaining jobs. Saima Aslam said the neediest persons for jobs are persons with disabilities because they suffer the most for example their medication, travelling and personal hygiene are the main issues which need money. She said a number of times she also applied in various colleges for the post of teacher but round the year she was told that the campus is closed. Similarly, two months back a multinational company in Islamabad called for applications from persons with disabilities in which a number of PWDs applied but so far none is called even for the interview or at least receive acknowledgement letter. When asked did she ever approached National Council for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons (NCRPD) she replied she is not aware of NCRPD and its function, however she would soon contact the director NCRPD regarding job employment of PWDs.
Amir Khan is also still jobless despite the fact he did his Bachelors of Computer Sciences. His left leg (above knee) was amputee in 2005 at Shoukat Khanum Hospital, Lahore due to cancer after which he is using artificial leg. He said he had applied for two government jobs but regretfully in both the cases he remained unsuccessful.
Similarly, Kamran Khan is another victim of unemployment. While talking to Pakistan Special he said he is a Polio victim and a resident of Sector I – 10/1, Islamabad. He is doing his M.Com from Federal Urdu University, Islamabad with a hope that after completing his education he would have definitely get a job according to his qualification. He said although he has not applied for any government job so far, but he is optimistic that he could compete for CSS exams as well. He wants to get job on open merit instead of two percent job quota for persons with disabilities.
Mohammad Shafiq for the last ten years is applying for government jobs but despite fulfilling all basic criteria he is failed to obtain a government or private job. After getting disappointed from all sides he has started his own business of tailoring with meager amount to meet his both ends. He complained that government has announced two percent job quota for the disabled but unfortunately it is not being implemented in its later and spirit. Although he is satisfied with his small business but still he is interested in getting some government job.
It is a dilemma that despite having full-fledged ordinance in this regard PWDs are not being entertained according to law and are not being provided job against their job quota. In this connection when Pakistan Special contacted Mr Rana Ramzan Saeed, Director National Council for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons (NCRDP), Government of Pakistan he said there are a number of legal documents, both at national level as well as at international level to which Pakistan is signatory protecting the rights of the persons with disabilities i n c l u d i n g r i g h t t o e m p l o y m e n t o r e c o n o m i c empowerment. He said at the moment NCRPD is performing its duties according to its mandate and is getting very positive results. He said the legal documents include The Disabled Persons’ (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance (1981), NADRA Act for special CNIC for PWDs 2009, CRC and CEDAW (that covers children and women with disabilities), Ratification of UNCRPD July 05, 2011 and 1981 Ordinance of 2% Quota in Employment.
Rana Saeed said “The Disabled Persons’ (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance (1981) defines “disabled person” as “a person who, on account of injury, disease or congenital deformity, is handicapped for undertaking any gainful profession or employment in order to earn his livelihood, and includes a person who is blind, deaf, physically handicapped or mentally retarded.” He said the “Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance” was enacted in 1981 as a presidential ordinance. This law was promulgated during the “International Year for Disabled Persons” in 1981 to provide support to the disabled persons in finding employment in government as well as commercial and industrial establishments. Government of Pakistan has also ratified ‘ILO Convention on Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment of Disabled Persons’. It has also ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He said the Ordinance provides to create Funds and establish the National Council for the rehabilitation of Disabled Persons (NCRDP) and it made mandatory to employ 2 percent disabled persons in public sector. The National Council’s Rules were notified in 1983.
He said the council was mandated to formulate policy for the employment, rehabilitation and welfare of the disabled persons. Additional, it has mandate to conduct the medical examination, treatment and survey on persons with disabilities. He claimed that in the jurisdiction of Rawalpindi and Islamabad two per job quota is being fully implemented and ratio of job quota not being implemented is almost zero. He said when some person with disability complaint to him that he is not being given his or her due right of employment Rana Saeed said he personally takes interest in the matter and solved the matter accordingly.
In this connection this scribe contacted a number of stakeholders. The following information are collected from Mr. Imran Nazir, Executive Director- Livelihood Centre for Disability and Development Program-Pakistan. When asked to explain salient feature of his organization Mr Imran Nazir said Livelihood Centre for Disability and Development Programme (LCDDP) Pakistan is one of the leading rights-based, cross-disability focused organizations in Pakistan and is known for its remarkable work on economic empowerment of persons with disabilities. LCDDP is a non-for-profit organization registered under Societies Act 1862 and is working in Pakistan since 2006 with its National office in Islamabad and Livelihood Resource Centers in Sialkot, Haripur and Chakwal. LCDDP is the lead implementing partner of Leonard Cheshire Disability International (UK) in Pakistan and is also a member of the Leonard Cheshire Global Alliance.
He said LCDDP strongly believe that the Economic Empowerment of persons with disabilities is the key for their Social Inclusion. LCDDP introduced and established first Livelihood Resource Center (LRC) in Islamabad in 2009. The second LRC was established in Sialkot in October 2012 with the support of Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Gold Star Surgical Private Limited. The third LRC at Chakwal wasestablished in collaboration with IRADAH by 2014. Hesaid over the last ten years LCDDPP has supported and trained more than 4500 people with disabilities in Pakistan and more than 3300 are economically empowered. “Our work has been recognised by the World Futures Council and the ESSL Foundation as an outstanding example of Innovative practice relating to people with disabilities and employment’ during 2013”, told Mr Imran Nazir.
When asked what is the cost of exclusion of PWDs from the Job market and what is the solution Mr Imran said
Pakistan like any other country in the globe is losing a lot of income by excluding persons with disabilities from the
work force. For instance, in 2000, the World Bank developed a bottom-up approach that estimated the
global losses incurred as a result of disability at between US$1.37trn and US$1.94trn every year. Using the World
Bank’s estimates and the Economist Intelligence Unit’s macroeconomic data for 2014, annual losses to Pakistan
as a result of excluding persons with disabilities from employment range between US$11.9bn and US$15.4bn annually, or between 4.9% and 6.3% of the country’s GDP. By 2018 losses could be as high as US$21.4bn. He said if we carefully see the stated figures, being a development worker, he guess this is big loss for a particular employment opportunities. He said if w e f o c u s o n t h e livelihood part alone then the problem started from t h e f a m i l y w h e r e caregivers are not ready to accept diversity and spend too much of time, energy and money in getting the problem fixed a n d i g n o r e t h e importance of education, life skills, vocational skills training and building c a p a c i t y f o r employability skills.