If you are not visible….

…. your rights and concerns are not visible either

CHAVITA Chairwoman Selina Mlemba summarizes her impressions from a workshop on disability rights with a focus on employment rights.

“At the workshop, I learned that we have a lot of knowledge and experience with disability rights, but we haven’t fully explored the issue of employment rights in our work, and the project Decent Work Options for Young Deaf Persons through funding from CICED/CISU Denmark, gives us a great opportunity to realize the value we have in employment rights,” states Selina Mlemba.

The project Selina Mlemba refers to is the fourth in a long-standing collaboration between CICED and CHAVITA. Previous efforts have focused on, among other things, the right to sign language as the language of the deaf and thus better access for deaf people to public services and participation in social life. CHAVITA has built solid networks with various authorities and has gained significant capacity to advocate for deaf rights.

The current project focusing on better working conditions for deaf people is rooted in the realization that there is minimal knowledge – among authorities and employers and in society as a whole – of the actually quite excellent legislation on the rights of disabled people that Tanzanian governments have passed over the years.The law requires, among other things, that the formal employment sectors in Tanzania employ people with disabilities and that a quota system is established to ensure that 3% of employees in institutions with more than 20 employees must be people with disabilities. The actual figure is 0.8%, according to a study conducted in 2022 by The Foundation of Civil Society in Tanzania.

” The workshop was used to bring us together as leaders and volunteers from the project’s outreach regions. We shared knowledge, experiences, skills, achievements, challenges and possible solutions to the challenges we face as individuals and organizations and also as the disability movement in general. We have a new understanding of different strategies that could possibly be used in our advocacy for decent employment for the deaf community in Tanzania. The workshop has also helped us create a strong network that is now used as a hub for information exchange and sparring on projects and other social development issues. It was a really good experience to have that event”.

Selina Mlemba also says that the experience is that people are not against changing their perception of disability, but they lack information, knowledge and understanding of disability and what needs to be done to include deaf people in working life.

“During the workshop discussions, we found that policy makers and those responsible for implementing legislation are not even aware of the basic rights of persons with disabilities in the labor market” says Selina Mlemba and continues: “They are not aware of existing policies and laws on the right to employment for persons with disabilities, even those in their own offices, and this makes it difficult to advocate, plan or implement programs for persons with disabilities”

“If you are not visible, your rights and concerns are not visible. It is important for us to create visibility in society by breaking the silence, reaching out and talking to every person who meets us and spreading information about the right to employment for people with disabilities,” concludes Selina Mlemba.

Participants in a workshop on deaf rights in the labor market
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