International and Regional Practices Favoring the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in the Labor Market

This paper constitutes the fourth in the Working Papers Series, which is produced by the Social Development Division of ESCWA. The research presented in this issue was conducted by the Social Policy Section as part of its ongoing efforts aimed at promoting an integrated approach to social policy and at fostering inclusive development in the region. Within that context, the paper responds to the Economic and Social Council resolution of July 2010, which “invites Governments, relevant organizations of the United Nations system, regional organizations and development partners to exchange views and share information on good policies and practices for mainstreaming social inclusion into social and economic policies at the national, regional and international levels aimed at achieving equity, equality, social inclusion, protection and cohesion, and recognizes existing efforts in this regard”.

The paper starts by providing an overview of disability-related approaches, definitions and challenges, and points at the dearth of data on disability in the region. It then summarizes the principal instruments and international covenants that govern the equalization of rights for persons with disabilities and that promote their social integration in general and their inclusion in the labour market in particular. The paper showcases a number of international experiences that foster the economic participation of persons with disabilities, and provides a regional perspective by examining the types of measures that are implemented in ESCWA member countries aimed at offsetting the unemployment of persons with disabilities.

It surveys policies, programmes, and legislation which could enable persons with disabilities to access employment opportunities in selected ESCWA and other countries.

It also stresses the need to enact laws that make discrimination against persons with disabilities a punishable act and to formulate policies that emphasize the rights-based approach and create equal opportunities.  The working paper concludes with general policy recommendations aimed at mainstreaming disability issues in national development strategies, including health, education, transport, infrastructure and social protection strategies; and proposes more specific actions in order to make labour markets more inclusive and responsive to the potentials of persons with disabilities.