Hripsime, from Armenia, used to spend most of her days on her own and was isolated from the world around her. She has hearing difficulties and can only communicate through sign language. She tried to work to have a dignified life, but employers were reluctant to give her a job.
Children with disabilities are some of the most deprived. They struggle to access quality education and lifesaving healthcare simply because they are living with a disability. When the time comes to find a job, stigma is one of the main barriers their face. Save the Children is campaigning to ensure that all children living with disabilities have the right to fulfil all their potential.
In Armenia, we have created an employment centre in collaboration with local organisations and employers. It was in this centre where Hripsime were able to find a job. Now she is working at a sewing factory and developing her skills.
Although Armenia has improved its economy, infrastructure and public services over the last 20 years, the majority of people living with a disability still face significant barriers and an absence of legal support. Across the world, people with disabilities have poorer health outcomes, lower education levels, less economic participation and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities.
The employment centre Hripsime visited is part of Save the Children's USAID-funded programme, Livelihood Improvement through Fostered Employment (LIFE). The LIFE project aims to overcome the barriers facing people with disabilities in Armenia, and to promote equal employment opportunities and access to employment as a basic human right. The program closely cooperates with several partners including NGOs, social enterprises, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions, government ministries, employers and employees.
Raising awareness in Armenia
One of the biggest challenges people with disabilities face in Armenia is the stigma and public perception. Having a child with a disability is often associated with shame, or as a punishment for wrong-doing. And people believe that disabled children do not need the same kind of education.
That is why the LIFE project is also running an innovative campaign to raise awareness in this issue and break the cultural barriers that are preventing these children from having a better life. “We All Have the Right to Work” and “It's Time to Realize Our Abilities” are the main claim of the campaign, which has had the support of popular Armenian artists like Hayk Marutyan and Mkrtich Arzumanyan. In these videos, they talk about the exclusion facing these group of people.
- I Am Able to Work. The Justice Is in Your Hands.
- People with disabilities can do a lot. Let's use their abilities.
What does Life project do?
LIFE has helped hundreds of people with disabilities in Armenia:
- 670 people living with disabilities have participated in work readiness and life skills training
- 256 young people living with disabilities entered technical and vocational institutions to continue their education
- 600 young people living with disabilities from inclusive, special and boarding schools took part professional orientation workshops
- 1045 teachers representing 90 TVETs attended a series of workshops on working with people living with disabilities
- 985 people living with disabilities participated in Job Fairs
Since January 2012, 548 people living with disabilities have been employed, a significant achievement within a country with widespread unemployment. Furthermore, the project has helped in the passing of a law which incorporates a quota for the employment of people living with disabilities within government.
To find out more about LIFE you can visit their website.