What you need to know:
- The ministries and state departments have a total in-post of 86,145.
- The ideal number of persons with disabilities is 4,308 but they have 680, or 1.2 er cent of the requirement, hence a gap of 3,628, or 3.8 per cent.
- In departments that are occupied by persons with disabilities, a small percentage serve at senior management and policy level.
Data show the small numbers of persons with disabilities who are in, specifically, formal employment. Unemployment or a lack of an income and the resultant poverty not only undermines their power and agency but studies have also shown that dependence on familiy for support greatly undermines freedom to make own choices or even exercise autonomy, which impacts on their self-esteem.
But how is data going to help the public and private sectors to live up to their obligations in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in ensuring their right to work and on an equal basis with others?
Various researchers have delved into the issue of work and employment for persons with disabilities. The National Gender and Equality Commission, in a report, “Status of Equality and Inclusion in Kenya”, notes that the larger proportion of employed persons with disabilities are likely to be in the informal category or agriculture with few in the formal sector, indicating their disadvantage in accessing good quality jobs.
Every year, the Public Service Commission releases a report on public service compliance with the values and principles spelt out in Articles 10 and 232 of the Constitution. Among others, they address national values and principles of governance — such as human dignity, equity, social justice, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, non-discrimination and protection of the marginalised. Another is affording adequate and equal opportunities for appointment, training and advancement — at all levels of the public service — of persons with disabilities as other people.
The 2017/18 report ranks diversity management as the least performing of the thematic areas evaluated in all public institutions, at 44 per cent, followed by accountability for administrative acts (68.2); performance management (61.3); efficiency, effectiveness, economic use of resources and sustainable development (57.6); and improvement in service delivery (56.6).
What caught my eye was the PSC recommending the review of recruitment and selection and the internship policies, and development of affirmative action programmes. Very good on paper. But it is painful to see the low numbers. Even more painful to hear experiences of many a qualified person with disability applying for a public service job and not being selected not once, not twice but even four times!
Consider the performance gaps. Weak compliance with provision of customised facilities and services for use by persons with disabilities; national inventory of persons with disabilities not yet in place; progressive attainment of the five per cent requirement for persons with disabilities in appointment — all not yet met.
In 2016, the PSC issued a “Diversity Policy for the Public Service” — a guideline on the mainstreaming and management of diversity issues. So, are there changes, especially for potential employees with diverse disabilities?
From the 2017/18 report, there were 2,155 persons with disabilities in the 251 institutions evaluated, accounting for a paltry 1.1 per cent of the in-post. The performance gap, therefore, was 3.9 per cent of the requirement.
An example in the report shows this. The ministries and state departments have a total in-post of 86,145. The ideal number of persons with disabilities is 4,308 but they have 680, or 1.2 er cent of the requirement, hence a gap of 3,628, or 3.8 per cent. In departments that are occupied by persons with disabilities, a small percentage serve at senior management and policy level.
The PSC set targets for 241 non-compliant institutions to bring up their representation of persons with disabilities at the six levels of public service to five per cent by 2022. But how is this possible when qualified job applicants with disabilities are still being rejected by the PSC? If accessibility and universal design standards are not being adhered to? If public transport is not accessible?
At the 2018 Global Disability Summit, the government committed to improve the lives of persons with disabilities and enhance opportunities for them. Aided by data from various sources, it must walk the talk.
Ms Ombati is a disability rights advocate. [email protected]