The United Nations Volunteer (UNV) program on Friday August 20, 2021, conducted an outreach campaign targeting Liberian professionals with disabilities in order to expand their inclusion and career prospects within the United Nations family.
The initiative attracted more than 40 graduates with degrees in sociology, education, public administration, mass communication, agriculture, accounting, IT, law enforcement, theology, among others. They were introduced to the United Nations Volunteer (UNV) programme, and guided on how to register to the global UNV roster so that they can be considered easily for volunteering opportunities in UN agencies locally and internationally.
“The United Nations is committed to ensuring that all its operations are fully inclusive of every member of society, and is working intentionally to bring on board more qualified professionals with disabilities to contribute to solving development, peace keeping and humanitarian challenges. Our goal is to ensure that no one is left behind,” said Doris Saydee, UNV’s Country Coordinator in Liberia.
The initiative will expand the pool of qualified professionals with disabilities available for recruitment by UN agencies in Liberia, and abroad as the organisation implements its goal for a diverse, inclusive workforce.
The drive to mobilize professionals with disabilities was presided over by the Ministries of Labor and Gender as well as the National Commission on Disabilities.
The Minister of Labor Cllr Charles Gibson, the Deputy Minister for Children and Social Protection at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ms Linda Sherman, and the Chair of the National Commission on Disabilities, Amb Daintowon Domah Pay-Bayee and her team formed part of the exercise.
Amb Pay-Bayee said the Commission had readily identified 60 professionals with disabilities eligible for inclusion in the UNV roster. “The key to independent living for us is education and employment,” Amb Pay-Bayee said. “What we need is an entry point; we don’t need special treatment but just an entry point.”
Labour Minister Cllr Gibson highlighted a number of initiatives that the government was undertaking to increase employment in partnership with the private sector and international organisations such as the UN.
Pleased at the number of professionally qualified candidates, the Minister promised to reserve slots for PWDs in each of the government’s efforts to increase employment opportunities to enable them make a decent living.
The Deputy Minister for Children and Social Protection, Linda M Sherman described the mobilization as an “excellent initiative” promising her ministry’s support and collaboration.
Ms Naomi Harris, the President of National Union of Organizations of the Disabled (NUOD), hailed the exercise as a first step of what was needed in future, saying; “We are at the ladder about to climb.”
UNV’s Doris Saydee said the mobilization of Liberian professionals with disabilities for inclusion in the UNV roster would improve their visibility and chances of gaining entry to serve humanity within the UN system.
She reported that the Governments of Sweden and Germany had this year offered to fully support 50 national UN volunteer specialist assignments for PWDs globally and a Liberian secure one of the slots.
“This mobilization will improve prospects for qualified PWDs to serve within the UN as volunteers, and enable UN partners to broaden the diversity of expertise and perspectives in their development programming and delivery,” said Ms Saydee.
The mobilization outreach was undertaken in collaboration with UNDP, the National Commission on People with Disabilities and the Williette Safehouse, which focuses on empowering youths with disabilities.