Business leaders, government and disability campaigners came together this week to mark the end of an innovative employment programme of three years that has helped to engage people with disabilities into work.
Since 2019, the Inclusion Works (IW) programme, part of the Inclusive Futures programme, supported more than 2,300 jobseekers in four countries—Bangladesh, Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda—to gain skills around work, according to a press release.
It has also partnered with more than 500 businesses, including Standard Chartered Bank, Unilever, Coca Cola and Swapno, to improve their disability inclusion practices.
In the closeout event of the programme held in Dhaka on Wednesday, chief guest Planning Minister MA Mannan said, “The government of Bangladesh has ensured comprehensive planning for the people with disabilities as per our disability act. The 8th Five-Year Plan has also considered their issues and economic empowerment strongly.”
Speaking as the special guest, Prime Minister’s Office Principal Coordinator (SDGs) Zuena Aziz said, “Our Prime Minister personally owns the SDGs and hence our national development strategies and policies are aligned with the targets of the SDGs. The government is putting the best efforts to make sure people with disabilities are not left behind and are considered within the country’s progressing development planning.”
In Bangladesh, IW Programme has created jobs for more than 500 people with disabilities and provided skills training to thousands of them to advance their job readiness.
The programme is funded by UK aid and run-in partnership by international development organisations including Sightsavers, organisations of people with disabilities and country partners.
According to Sightsavers, encouraging people with disabilities to participate in the labour market could add $6 trillion to the global economy every year. Countries that are not disability inclusive are losing out on up to 7 per cent of their GDP.