Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD)

Flagship Program 5: SA-DEEEP

Southern Africa Disability Economic Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Program (SA-DEEEP)

Under this program, the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD) seeks to actively influence strategies on economic empowerment of persons with disabilities through initiatives that support inclusive national policies, legislative, poverty reduction strategies and other related national development plans and programs.

The Sixth Session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), held in New York from 17th to 19th July 2013, acknowledged the fact that the world’s Persons with Disabilities comprising approximately 15 per cent of the global population, constitute a significant group that can contribute to development and society, and yet their potential has not always been realized because of existing barriers.

Many of those of working age — at least 780 million people — face physical, social, economic and cultural barriers that hinder their access to education, skills development, employment, health services and, more broadly, society on an equal basis with others. Evidence shows that Persons with Disabilities are at greater risk of poverty than persons without disabilities in both developed and developing countries. A constant state of poverty or precariousness, reduced economic resilience and repeated economic shocks from a lack of coverage for needed goods and services are the norm for many. And the situation has not spared the Southern Africa region, which is among the most impoverished regions in the world.

While reliable comparable data on labour market participation by persons with disabilities are scarce, common patterns are reported in countries at different levels of development. Compared with non-disabled persons, persons with disabilities are less likely to be in full-time employment; more likely to be unemployed; and significantly more likely to be economically inactive. In developing countries, they are more likely to work in the informal economy.

When in employment, workers with disabilities are more likely to count among the working poor, as they are frequently in low-paying precarious jobs with poor career prospects and working conditions and limited or no pension and health benefits. Women with disabilities are less likely to have a decent job than either women without disabilities or men with disabilities, and persons with certain types of disability, including intellectual and psychosocial disabilities, face greater barriers in finding and retaining employment.

Many Persons with Disabilities in the SADC region, for example, also face significant economic constraints in owning assets, such as land, or to obtaining access to credit. They are also very often denied a voice and power in the political process, and there is a lack of attention to their rights, a situation that make them economically worse off and at greater risk of poverty than non-disabled persons, in particular where they are not provided with adequate social protection.

SAFOD has, therefore, identified key actions and programmatic interventions in order to address some of the above challenges, as follows:

  1. Collaborate with national federation of organisations of person with disabilities and other partners to advocate and campaign for policies and practices that promote the socio economic rights for persons with disabilities.
  2. Advocate for integrated national social protection policies and frameworks designed to guarantee income security and access to social services for all, paying particular attention to the needs of the Persons with Disabilities.
  3. Develop and refine differentiated concepts and understanding of economic empowerment that includes cross cutting issues and gender concerns
  4. Develop and improve strategies to involve and engage directly persons with disabilities in order that they have a space and voice of their own in the Economic empowerment programs and processes of government and its agencies
  5. Generate and utilize knowledge, evidence and data from research, studies and surveys that support economic empowerment of persons with disabilities in Southern Africa
  6. Provide business development and support services for persons with disabilities owned small enterprises (SME) by enabling innovative Entrepreneurship.
  7. Lobby and advocate for increased employment opportunities for people with disabilities at national and regional level.