Unlocking potential: Transforming the workplace for millions of people with disabilities in Africa

In Nigeria, a staggering 29 million people, or 18.3 percent of the population, live with a disability. Visual impairment, hearing impairment, physical disability, intellectual disability, and communication disability are the most common disabilities. Of these, approximately 10.4% of working-age Nigerians (18-65 years) suffer from a disability that significantly impairs their ability to find employment, totaling 23.8 million people.

Despite the enactment of the Disability Discrimination Act in 2018, which requires public institutions to allocate at least 5 percent of their workforce to people with disabilities, opportunities for this demographic group remain significantly limited. . Policy efforts to close the employment gap in both the public and private sectors have proven inadequate, with employment rates for people with disabilities lagging far behind those without disabilities.

In parallel, according to the 2018 Population and Housing Census, there are 1,734,250 people with disabilities in Malawi, accounting for approximately 11.6 percent of the total population aged five years and above, of which 134,636 people have albinism.

In response to this dire situation, the Special Support Initiative for Growth (SNIG) Nigeria, in collaboration with Salama Africa Malawi, has launched a breakthrough project that “breaks boundaries and empowers the workforce in Nigeria and Malawi.” Launched a project to advocate for people with disabilities. This innovative project includes the premiere of a short documentary film and an interactive workshop event for employers. Its core mission is to encourage greater compliance with existing disability rights laws in both Nigeria and Malawi, with the ultimate aim of changing the organization’s attitude from mere compliance to the barriers that limit the employment of people with disabilities. to create a truly inclusive workplace. .

On October 25, 2023, the project was officially launched simultaneously at the American Corner in Lagos, Nigeria and the Salama Africa Building in Malawi. The event featured opening remarks by Rachel Inegbedion, founding executive director of the Special Needs Initiative for Growth, and Toussaint Farini, founder of Salama Africa. They draw inspiration from the exemplary dedication of the late Judy Heumann, a prominent disability rights activist who played a leading role in the global disability movement for 40 years. He emphasized the urgent need to promote participation in power.

In her keynote address, Amanda Roach, deputy civil servant at the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos, praised Judy Heumann’s work and praised both Nigeria and Malawi for organizing the project as a way to remove barriers to employment for people with disabilities.

During the event, SNIG’s Treasurer and Member of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Omowonuora Akintonde, provided insight into the history of the Special Support for Growth Initiative. She outlined how SNIG’s vision of promoting employment equity has positively impacted the lives of countless young people with disabilities across Africa.

The workshop event was attended by various organizations representing worker-employers such as Redington Hospital, Abiola Bonuola Communications, Warden HCD, Creditwave Finance Limited, Renaissance Peacebuilders Foundation (REFOP), etc. . This documentary features interviews with 10 people with disabilities from Nigeria and Malawi who share their experiences on education, employment, self-employment, challenges in accessing social services, barriers to employment, etc., and share their experiences in dialogue, awareness and implementation. sparked a dynamic session of initiatives. , exchange of ideas to overcome challenges.

The main interactive elements of the workshop included the “Inclusiveness” on employment ethics and employer employability preparedness, led by SNIG Project Director Kikelomo Olatunde and Human Resources Specialist Godswill Ekwugaonu. It included a presentation of “Initiatives”. The event also featured networking sessions, career pitches, and Speed ​​His Dates, allowing the documentary’s protagonists to have direct one-on-one interactions with employers and their girlfriends. Leading actors from Nigeria and Malawi include Abiodun Oyiniran, Adewale Omojoworo, Safari Strong, Grace Adebambo, Luvubika Pierre, Daniel Isaiah Olamide, Adijah Asumani, Victor Uchechukwu Odogwu, Oluwakemi Odusanya and Jeanne. -Dark, Jasmon kirongi, and Mojisola arabi were included.

Rachel Inegbedion, founding executive director of SNIG, stressed that the short documentary in 2023, which will be followed in 2022, aims to raise awareness across Africa. The partnership with Salama Africa aims to address employment barriers and promote inclusive workspaces in Nigeria and Zareka Refugee Camp. The goal of this project is to encourage employment managers and employers in Nigeria and Malawi to identify challenges in hiring people with disabilities and find solutions that are in line with national laws mandating the employment of people with disabilities. This work goes beyond mere compliance to address widespread inequalities in a changing world.

Toussaint Farini, founder of Salama Africa, and Rachel Inegbedion, founding executive director of the Special Needs Initiative for Growth, are both recipients of the 2023 U.S.-funded Mandela Washington Fellowship, “Harnessing Innovation in New Communities.” LINC)” grant recipient. Conducted by the Department of State and conducted by the International Research Exchange Board. The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative and is designed to recognize 25- to 35-year-olds with a proven track record of driving innovation and positive impact in their communities and countries. Recognizes outstanding leaders.


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