Persons with Disability struggle to find jobs

Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) face significant employment disparity compared to those without disabilities.

According to the latest Population and Housing Census of Bhutan (NSB,2020), 2.1 percent of the population are categorized as disabled. Various factors contribute to this gap, such as discriminatory hiring practices and a lower percentage of individuals with disabilities completing Bachelor’s degrees.

On 14 June 2023, the National Assembly formally ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), but with four reservations. Notably, reservations were regarding specific sections within various articles, particularly Article 27, which addresses Work and Employment. Despite this official adoption, individuals with disabilities continue to encounter challenges in the job market.

In a recent interview, Tenzin, a resident of Trashiyangtse who navigates the challenges of a physical disability, and relies on a wheelchair expressed concern about the limited availability of job opportunities tailored for individuals like him.

Despite having the aspiration to work, Tenzin, when questioned about his employment prospects, responded, “I do have intentions to work, but I don’t see many opportunities specifically designed for individuals like me”

A recent graduate, Pema, who has hearing issues, discussed the stark realities of post-graduation employment. He expressed shock at the recruitment system’s emphasis on perfection, sharing a personal experience of disqualification during a teacher’s interview due to his hearing disability.

When asked about his plans to work he said, “Since childhood, I aspired to become a teacher, but as someone with a hearing disability, I was disqualified during my teacher’s interview. That was a bit of shock and heartbreak.”

Another person with a physical disability, who just like Tenzin, depends on a wheelchair for mobility added about how people view the term “disability.”

He said “I have faced and encountered a lot of misconceptions and disabilities. I feel that many people have limited perceptions of disabilities, and they are mostly centered around the idea that disability is an inability.” Moreover, according to his experiences, he feels that these misconceptions are also a common stereotype among people that those with disabilities cannot make a big in life.

According to Deki Zam, the Executive Director at Draktsho Vocational Training, PWDs face challenges in securing open-market jobs due to their disabilities, as many in the private sector prioritize profit, making it difficult for them, perceived as slower performers, to compete.

On the other hand, she also said, “There are very few places that do offer job opportunities to PWDs, but the infrastructure are not disabled friendly which poses huge challenges.”

Furthermore, she also said, “Now, as Bhutan has finally ratified the UNCRPD, we hope that the lives of Persons with Disabilities in Bhutan will have better inclusive facilities and services.”

However, the Program Manager, Namgay Dorji, of Ability Bhutan Society (ABS) outlined the organization’s efforts in creating awareness. Nevertheless, he underscored a notable gap in implementation, referring to the practical application of measures and policies. According to him, there exists a widespread failure to recognize the individual’s capability in the job market, where he said, “It is not about potential, it’s the environment.”

He emphasized the critical role of fostering an environment that is not only supportive, but also conducive to inclusivity, highlighting the need for a disability-friendly atmosphere. This observation suggests that while awareness initiatives are in place, there is a need for more tangible actions to effectively promote equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities bringing into highlight the policies implemented for persons with disabilities.

The Program Officer concluded by giving insightful knowledge of using respectful terminology, suggesting that individuals should use the term “Persons with Disabilities” even though words such as “differently-abled and special people” are commonly used terms.

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