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Manila – The Institute for Labor Studies conducted the first part of the DOLE Disability Inclusive Governance Framework (DIGF) consultation series held online last July 14 via Zoom.

The activity coincided with the celebration of the 44th National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week as per Proclamation No. 361 (2000). With the theme, “Pamahalaan kabalikat sa Pagtupad ng Pantay na Edukasyon, Trabaho, at Kabuhayan, tungo sa Pagpapalakas ng Taong May Kapansanan,” the National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week seeks to culminate activities and advocacies towards disability awareness and inclusion in the workplace.

In her Welcome Remarks, ILS Deputy Executive Director Atty. Mary Grace L. Riguer-Teodosio reiterated that the DIGF was born out of the Department’s thrust to cater its policies and programs to create a barrier-free and inclusive workplace and empower Persons with Disabilities in and out of the labor force.

“The DIGF would be considered a necessary precedent for removing physical, institutional, and communication barriers while addressing structural impediments to inclusivity for Persons with disabilities. The Institute aims to facilitate relevant discussions on disability inclusion and solicit comments from our stakeholders to enhance further aspects in the Framework, that would better capture how to represent and advocate for the welfare of Persons with Disabilities in the workplace.”

An overview of the DIGF was given by the project’s lead proponent Frances Camille G. Dumalaog, Senior Labor and Employment Officer from the Workers’ Welfare Research Division.

Keynote speaker for the said activity was Mr. Stefan Tromel, Senior Disability Specialist, ILO Gender, Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (GEDI), Geneva. He spoke about the Essence of Disability Inclusion in the Government.

“It is important for the Department of Labor and Employment to provide support to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to promote the employment of Persons With Disabilities. When larger companies are convinced that it is good for them to employ PWDs, they will have the adequate capacity to do so, but that is more difficult for SMEs, and we must be able to provide them with adequate technical and financial support to make workplace adjustments that will be required to employ PWDs. I have seen unprecedented progress in the employment of PWDs, but the recent pandemic reminded us that we cannot relapse and take the disability inclusion for granted. In the context of pandemic, PWDs should be in the center stage of any measures and we need to think more about the new labor market that is being impacted by the pandemic, of teleworking, and about the challenges and opportunities that these new ways of working bring to PWDs,” said Mr. Tromel.

After Mr. Tromel’s lecture, the stakeholders were grouped where they shared insights on the this, various challenges faced by our PWDs with a lens on Gender and Employment. The discussion yielded a matrix of existing laws and policies from the various government agencies and will serve as a backbone of policies that DOLE could further develop to answer the gaps in programs that will better respond to the needs our PWDs.

The second part of the consultation series will be concluded on July 28.

The event was hosted by Jessa Rodene B. Francisco, from the Finance and Admin Division and Malorie Joy O. Mones from the Workers Welfare Research Division.