African Journal of Social Work

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Disability and the challenge of employment in Zimbabwe: a social protection perspective

Edmos Mtetwa


The role of employment to social protection is indisputable. This is so particularly in southern Africa where poverty and economic distress together with governance and other challenges make the provision of social assistance a pipe dream to the majority of the citizenry. This leaves social insurance as the dominant form of social security in Africa, with those in formal employment standing to benefit more than the unemployed majority who ache a living from invisible means. Inevitably, such a scenario triggers stiff competition for the few jobs most African economies are able to provide. This has dire repercursions for persons with disabilities who must not only contend with both what their impairment brings to bear in an ablest society but have also to struggle to convince employers and governments that they are capable and deserve space on the labour market. This paper examines the nexus between disability and unemployment before linking the two to social protection. Using a qualitative methodology, the paper examines the obstacles faced by persons with disabilities in gaining entry into the formal labour market. Findings indicated that persons with disabilities find it difficult to join the formal labour market, with those who get employed not able to rise through the ranks due to attitudinal factors. In addition, low levels of education coupled with reduced self esteem compound the situation. The paper finally discusses these findings within the context of social insurance.

Keywords: disability, unemployment, social security, poverty

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