Spring 2020 Professional Fellow Susan Sabano, a Project Coordinator at the Uganda National Association of Cerebral Palsy (UNACP) and emerging civic leader, is striving to promote inclusive employment in Uganda as the country grapples with growth in challenges to disability inclusion during the the past year. As Uganda readjusts in uncertain times, Susan and her colleagues are making bold strides in policy advocacy and programming across the country.
VIDEO: SUSAN AND UNACP’S WORK ON INCLUSION IN 2020
POLICY ADVOCACY IN UGANDA: CREATING INCLUSIVE WORKPLACES
Susan’s organization, the Uganda National Association of Cerebral Palsy (UNACP), was founded to support the CP community but oversees programs and advocacy that benefit Ugandans with disabilities more broadly. It is affiliated with Uganda’s flagship disability rights organization, the National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU), and has advocated with them and other groups for inclusive affirmative action in Uganda’s government. Recently, Susan and her counterparts have worked on a campaign to get the Ugandan government to create mandatory standards for reasonable accommodations in public sector jobs. The campaign is led by the Federation of Uganda Employers (FUE), the country’s chief provider of employment leadership resources, advocacy, and policy guidance. The Ugandan government is one of the country’s largest employers, so successes in advancing accessibility will have an especially big impact for persons with disabilities. Their coalition is placing special emphasis on broader access to sign language interpreters and assistive devices in government positions, which they see not only as fundamental needs but good starting points for meaningful inclusion.
CREATING SELF-EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES DURING A CRISIS
Susan’s team at UNACP has a long record of empowering youth with disabilities to become financially self-sufficient and self-employed in situations where inclusive jobs are beyond their reach. They achieve this through professional skills development and localized trainings that let youth obtain specialized skills for self-sufficiency and small business, especially in rural areas. In the past year, Susan has delivered support and conducted vocational trainings for Ugandan youth who have limited formal education but untapped talent.
SHOW ABILITIES UGANDA (SAU) – BUILDING TECHNICAL SKILLS
Susan’s work at UNACP also supports Show Abilities Uganda (SAU), a joint initiative between multiple disability rights actors that builds leadership, independence and inclusive employment among young Ugandans with disabilities. Officially known as NUDIPU-Youth, Show Abilities Uganda recently a new project that will train youth with disabilities professionally and share skillsets and mentorship in several careers. Enrolled youth can develop skills and access mentorship in fields that are technical (mechanics, carpentry, joinery) and creative (catering, fabric-making, tailoring).
This skills development program is especially valuable since 90% of Ugandan youth with disabilities do not have access to higher education, and the trainings will improve their qualifications, provide practical experience, and build personal confidence. It is being launched in three districts in Uganda’s Northern, Central and Eastern Regions (Oyam, Mpigi, and Sironko Districts).
Thanks to Susan work, many youths with disabilities have received resources and developed expertise in farming, craftsmanship, and small enterprise. She continues to coordinate projects in Northern, Central and Western Uganda despite the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, and plans to do so in 2021.