As the pandemic intensifies its grip on the global population, governments worldwide are placing their citizens into various forms of quarantine. For the first time, the world is candidly faced with the feelings of isolation from society. However, for many, this sense of detachment is not a temporary phase, this is everyday life.
The approximate 1.3 billion people with disabilities worldwide are no stranger to the exclusion that the world is facing as a result of the pandemic, who have faced habitual isolation in many aspects of their lives.
Disability is a natural part of the human experience, with masses having now experienced the feelings of isolation, we cannot now escape the realities of exclusion and the impact that it has not only on mental and physical well-being but on the quality of life.
The State of Kuwait, a regional pioneer, memorialised disability awareness in its legal umbrella in 2010 and since, there has been a host of projects led by the Public Authority for Disabled Affairs (PADA) who have spared no effort in converging the public, private and social sectors in delivering support to people with disabilities.
The perseverance and devotion of PADA has drawn a notable attentiveness to this topic in Kuwait and leaders such as Bader Nasser Al Kharafi, Vice Chairman and CEO of Zain Telecommunications are now spearheading regionwide corporate initiatives in support of empowering people with disabilities in the world of work.
There are approximately 27,000 registered people with disabilities in the State of Kuwait and though the welfare of people with disabilities has always been at the heart of the State’s conviction, the reality is that the majority of people with disabilities are still marginalised from the labour market. Whilst many businesses recognize the market value of people with disabilities, today’s modus operendi sustains the convincing moral and societal imperative that exclusion must end.
Despite sustainability being constantly probed by corporates worldwide, the past months have been a testimony of viability; the inclusion of people with disabilities in business is certainly achievable. Many of the practices that we have seen implemented are the same practices that allow people with disabilities to not only participate, but to prosper!
The rapid response to the impact of the pandemic has seen a worldwide shift including an upsurge in the use of technologies and digital communication. Today we are seeing the business world at its most responsive and agile state.
Although it has taken the devastating events of today to propel the prominence of this discussion, the last decade has repeatedly highlighted the moral and social importance of this. With our strong hold on hope that this pandemic will pass, today has granted us an opportunity to make good business sense of changing this issue for the future, building on everything that we have learnt and cultivating new systems and models that are wholly inclusive.
It is inevitable, that post-pandemic many business models will be redesigned in view of global scenario planning. In doing so, they must not repeat mistakes of the past or the present, amongst which include neglecting the advantage of inclusion and the basic rights of people with disabilities; an equally important part of our communities.
For the longest time, there has been the belief that world systems could not change, today, amidst the pandemic we have proved that they can and they will continue to do so. We now all know the global pain of exclusion – there is no justification.
By Sadie Hussain, Attorney and Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador