Negative perceptions of disability often lead to marginalization and exclusion of persons with disability from society, including the education and employment sectors. In Rwanda, as in many other countries, youth with disabilities often face numerous challenges in accessing education and employment opportunities. These challenges include lack of physical accessibility, financial barriers, and negative social norms and perceptions around disability. Additionally, these structural barriers and socio-cultural stereotypes around disabilities also play a significant role in limiting opportunities for and the potential of youth with disabilities.
EDC through the USAID-funded Umurimo Kuri Bose (UKB) Activity worked with the Rwandan government and local youth-serving organizations to equip youth with employability skills and work-based learning opportunities. Additionally, UKB developed innovative and effective approaches tailored to youth with disabilities based on their type and degree of disability. UKB engaged and partnered with youth and businesses to create a sense of membership, commitment, and community across program partners to establish a disability inclusive workforce for wage and self-employment jobs.
The two-year UKB Activity implemented the following activities:
- Building on EDC’s extensive experience with workforce development and youth livelihoods programming, UKB partnered with organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) to deliver training programs and accompaniment for youth with and without disabilities.
- Promoted an inclusive and enabling environment for youth with disabilities to access and succeed in employment by building on OPD initiatives to build the capacity of employers to be better hosts of youth with disabilities in workplace learning and jobs.
Between 2020 and 2022, the Activity served 1,708 youth across 12 districts in Rwanda. These youth included 1,173 youth with disabilities (720 women and 453 men) and 535 youth without disabilities (382 women and 153 men).
Additional achievements included:
- 45% of youth with disabilities and 40% of youth without disabilities participating in UKB found new employment.
- 167% increase in earnings among youth who had a livelihood activity or earned income at the start of the program
- Launched six Youth Development Alliances to support youth inclusion activities at the district level
- Launched a network of 48 business champions committed to disability inclusion in the workplace
- Conducted a local labor market assessment to assess business opportunities and skills gaps for better programming
- Conducted a gender equality and social inclusion study designed to deepen the understanding of barriers related to gender and inclusion, specifically pertaining to young women with disabilities
- With the USAID-funded Huguka Dukore Akazi Kanoze, conducted the Study of Effective Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in the Workplace
- Built the capacity of OPDs and youth-serving implementing partners providing employment preparation and entrepreneurship services to youth with disabilities by strengthening their skills in monitoring, evaluation, data collection, and knowledge management
- In 12 districts, facilitated gender and disability social inclusion workshops to develop specific and relevant action plans of activities to contribute to the inclusion and awareness of people with disabilities
Umbrella Organizations of People with Disabilities in the Fight Against HIV and AIDS in Health Promotion, Rwanda Union of the Blind, Rwanda National Union of the Deaf, UWEZO Youth Empowerment, African Evangelistic Enterprise, Benimpuhwe Organization, Akazi Kanoze Access