pwds_in_liberia Image: Daily Observer

The government and people here are still facing significant challenges in realizing the 4% job and employment rights of persons with disabilities (PwDs), even after the 2005 laws that formed the National Commission on Disabilities (NCD) were passed.

“Honesty Liberia is lagging at 4%. After the 2017 elections, we had to petition the government through a citizen social action. During that peaceful protest, we got President Weah’s attention and he went to work and ordered cabinet ministers and agencies to hire people with disabilities. Samuel Dean said, “Few people compiled LIP—two persons—and Liberian News Agency—two persons.”

Samuel Dean was a candidate running for representative in Montserrado County’s eighth district in 2023. He supports human rights advocacy and the advancement of people with disabilities (PWDs).

A minimum of 4% of all employees in public institutions “Must” be persons with disabilities (PWDs), and these positions should be filled based on merit, according to Article 27 of the 2005 Act that formed the NCD.

The Act was further supported by the 1986 ILO Convention, to which Liberia is a signatory, which acknowledged the enormous positive effects on the nation’s economy and other spheres of influence that result from granting people with disabilities positions in the commercial and public sectors.

But the goal of what is referred to as a “good law” is almost not achieving the desired outcomes; there is a significant social and economic divide between those who are disabled and those who are not.

“I don’t remember us having leaders who have disabled children, disabled parents, or somebody in their family who was disabled so that they understood what disabled was coming from.  

Dean said, “And I don’t believe we have a strong advocate on the issue of having our leaders understand the need for inclusivity and diversity, and that is why I believe that some of us who have the opportunity to acquire a little knowledge on social work can be able to drive this point professionally so that the government understands that she signed an instrument to safeguard our fundamental freedom.”

There aren’t enough organized records on people with impairments in a population of five million. However, the horrific civil war that concluded in 2003 and the Ebola outbreak in 2014, according to estimates made in 2014 by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), certainly put the percentage of individuals with disabilities in Liberia closer to 20 percent.

A 1997 UNICEF report, which is likewise outdated, reveals that 61% of Liberians have difficulty moving freely and 16% have some impairment. Of these, 8% have an intellectual or psychosocial handicap, 7% have speech problems, and 24% are visually challenged.

If the legislation is any indication, President Boakai will have to designate 28 individuals with impairments for high managerial roles in his government.

“We believe, however, that this government is the one that will set the bar in that regard because this government led the role-playing with the appointment of visually impaired Noah Gibson as deputy director for operations at the national transit authority;

“But if Section 5 of the Act that established the National Commission on Disabilities is anything to go by, the president owes the disability community 28 appointments,” said Dean

The advocate claims that the Boakai-Koung government, which has family members with disabilities, is the best administration to implement this clause.

“The issue of disability is a human rights issue.  We needed the right voices to champion these causes; we didn’t have them, so now we have selfless, competent leaders who have great human relationships, a love for service, and integrity. They are going to drive this point and we are certain that these points are going to be accepted and Liberia is going to be on its way to accomplishing that 4%,” said Dean.

Dean is now nominated as the Executive Director of NCD.

Mr. Wilfred Gewon, a visually impaired lecturer at the Lion Club Computer Institute at African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU), demonstrated the benefits of employing PwDs by using himself as a case study.

Gewon contends that when people with disabilities find employment, they grow into autonomous, self-sufficient individuals who make significant contributions to the advancement of any community.

“I no longer depend on my father’s pension benefits to make ends meet for himself and my family because I am gainfully employed and capacitated to underwrite expenses. Gewon “Unlike before, I am no longer seen as a burden, but as an asset to my family because I now make my own money.”

Pushing for the 4% to be achieved:

The disability community, as well as domestic and foreign partners and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), have been pressuring the government to see to it that the law is implemented so that qualified people with disabilities (PwDs) can be hired alongside “normal” citizens of Liberia. This is a dream that has not yet been realized.

A mere drop in the ocean compared to meeting the requirement, as only 27 people with disabilities have been employed by government agencies since 2008, according to the NCD’s then-director, Madam Recadia Dennis, in June 2021.

Dean suggests that to guarantee strict compliance with the law and other laws that cover it, the Ministry of Gender, the National Commission on Disability, and a panel of 77 people should work together to develop a monitoring regulation.

The NCD’s immediate ex-executive director is Madam Paybeyea. She only showed up for some of the arranged interviews.
Various groups and campaigns have been established to plan measures to persuade the government to act.

At one of these events, Adama Dempster, a human rights advocate, emphasized the importance of having statistical data on the number of disabled people in Liberia. This data will be useful in predicting various initiatives and events that will encourage more disabled people to work regular jobs alongside able-bodied individuals in the country.

Dempster goes on to emphasize the necessity for political will to advance these many conventions and policies that examine how PWDs can obtain justice from a variety of angles and how they can hold high positions in both the public and private sectors.


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