Fight for right to work

2015-05-05 06:00

A woman with a physical disability has not given up her own fight to ensure people living with disabilities have a right to decent employment.

Undere Deglon, CEO of Disability Workshop Development Enterprise (DWDE), works closely with a number of companies in the private sector that are committed to employing people with disabilities.

The Institute for Promotion of Disabled Manpower, in partnership with Western Cape Network on Disability, held a summit at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) on Friday 13 February.

Sinawe Pezi, deputy CEO of DWDE, explained through education, empowerment and networking opportunities between employers and people with disabilities, the organisation’s Employment Support Services makes a significant contribution towards enriching lives, building an inclusive society and inspiring young people on their way towards finding opportunities for work.

The DWDE launched the Employment Support Services in 2013 across South Africa with an associated target employment of 1200 people with disabilities in the open labour market.

Pezi says the 2% employment campaign is a partnership between DWDE, the Jobs Fund, administered by the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Disability.

“We seek to create awareness among employers about the employability of people with disabilities and to give people with disabilities exposure to employment opportunities and guide them in the right career choices,” she says.

During the Disability Employment Summit, the organisation presented an overview of an employment creation campaign.

It was revealed at the summit that the private sector is well on its way to meeting the 2% quota set out by government, while some are exceeding expectation.

Pezi says many South Africans with disabilities desperately require an increase in job creation initiatives to overcome the unemployment problem.

“Unemployment is the root cause of poverty and inequality, and can be a contributing factor to substance abuse, increased levels of crime and social exclusion,” she says.

Pezi says according to Statistics South Africa Census 2011, there are just over two million (7.54%) people with disabilities, excluding certain groups and children younger than five, compared to people without disabilities which total just over 35 million (92.46%).

“On the other hand, the Commission for Employment Equity Annual Report 2013/2014, reporting on employment equity progress among designated employers, noted after 15 years there are only about 50 000 (0.9%) people with disabilities in employment,” she says.

This is miles away from the target of 2% employment of persons with disabilities set by the government, Pezi explains.

“The Employment Equity Act in South Africa was intended to eliminate discrimination in employment by developing a labour force that is broadly representative of the South African population,” she says.

However, Pezi says, many unemployed South Africans with disabilities remain condemned to a life of dependence on disability grants.

“We would like to partner with the private sector and government institutions to assist them with achieving their 2% quota,” she urges.

Pezi adds that South Africa will have a disability census in 2015 which will hopefully show an accurate profile and prevalence of all disability types in South Africa.

“Both internationally and locally, there are difficulties in obtaining accurate disability statistics,” she says

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