Persons with autism in the workplace greatly affected by COVID-19: First Lady Margaret Kenyatta
Today, we join the international community in marking World Autism Awareness Day.
This year’s theme: Inclusion in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities in a Post – Pandemic World, provides a moment for us to reflect on the progress we are making to support and protect the rights of people living with autism.
Since this day was set apart in 2017, our attention has been drawn to the realities experienced by persons living with autism, so that we increase our knowledge and understanding of what we need to do as individuals, and communities, to support them.
This year, World Autism Day shines a spotlight on inequalities experienced by persons with autism in the workplace. This inequality has been greatly exacerbated by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Kenya’s Constitution 2010 in Article 54, safeguards the protection of persons living with disability and recognises principles based on equal opportunity, dignity and respect – free from discrimination and prejudice.
These values are aligned to Sustainable Development Goal 8 (SDG 8) on Decent Work and Economic Growth, and Article 27 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
These rights are integral to our commitment and obligation to support and embrace persons living with disabilities. They require investments to ramp up availability of health and education services, improved diagnostic facilities and research.
Although there has been some improvement in therapy services, available data is still inadequate in helping us move forward to provide better access and opportunities.
The new Competency Based Curriculum in schools lays emphasis on skills development for all our young children. We applaud this inclusive education model that seeks to increase the learning potential of children with disabilities like autism.
In addition, we need to expand our efforts through creation of vocational centres that will accommodate adolescents and young adults with autism to prepare them for the world of work; they too can fulfill their hopes and individual aspirations in order to contribute their unique talents to our country’s development.
So, as we celebrate persons living with autism, let us also celebrate the fundamental dignity and beauty of human life in all its diversity.
I, will continue to add my voice and pledge my support through Beyond Zero, for increased social inclusion and equal access to health and education services for the women and children of Kenya.
Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta, First Lady of the Republic of Kenya.