- June 17, 2022

On March 18 and 19, 2022, the National OPD Advisory Committee (NOAC) established under the Inclusion Works program in Bangladesh met to explore the learning, impact, challenges, and future opportunities for the disability movement to lead efforts for inclusive employment.

Participants representing OPDs from five districts - Dhaka, Gazipur, Khulna, Narsingdi and Chattogram participated in this meeting. Discussions centred around the greater need to invest in the disability movement and OPDs to strengthen their capacity to advocate for systemic shifts in the labour market. The meeting also called for more training on Article 27 for OPDs and others, and for greater focus to demand the implementation of national laws particularly for accessibility and reasonable accommodation. The NOAC also agreed to advocate for the implementation of the Global Disability Summit Commitments made by different stakeholders in Bangladesh, starting with the translation of those commitments into Bengali. The meeting was supported by the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

Shafiqul Islam, Country Director of ADD Bangladesh and Lianna Jones, Program Manager of Inclusion Futures employment program at Sightsavers addressed the participants. Both acknowledged the need for a platform like the NOAC to continue. Responding to participants' queries about the possibility of further support for the NOAC to carry forward the work initiated through Inclusion Works, Lianna shared that those discussions are currently on to see how the exit strategy and sustainability plans can support OPDs.

Under the IW program, National Project Advisory Committees (NPACs) were formed in the four programme countries. The NPAC in Bangladesh is known as National OPD Advisory Committee (NOAC) and is an OPD-led advisory committee that connects the IW programme with the larger disability movement’s priorities on inclusive employment. The NOAC was envisioned to give guidance in relation to SDG Goal 8 (Promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all) aligning it to CRPD Article 27 (Work and Employment).

Participants in the Dhaka workshop

Participants in the Dhaka workshop

In December, the NOAC organised consultation meetings on the Global Disability Summit 2022 to influence the government and other stakeholders to make commitments based on the priorities of the disability movement. They also participated in the GDS that took place virtually this time.

To follow up on this, the NOAC has organised a workshop to discuss the next steps in the advocacy on inclusive employment in the context of the GDS commitments and the next steps building on the lessons learnt from the IW programme.

Despite almost universal ratification of the UNCRPD and the political will to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), employment of persons with disabilities is much lower compared to the general population. They experience multiple discrimination on the basis of disability coupled with other layers of identity, such as age and gender. The Inclusion Works program demonstrated that systems can and need to change in order for inclusive employment to happen. This program, started in July 2018 and concluding in July 2022, aims at enhancing access to the formal labour market for persons with disabilities.

The program is running in Bangladesh, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda, engaging a wide group of stakeholders including persons with disabilities and their OPDs, governments, employers, and the private sector.

Read the report here.

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