Presentation by Emi Aizawa, Director, Social Security Team, Human Development

Department, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)

At the Round Table 1

“Reducing Poverty and Inequality for Persons with Disabilities

through Targeted Programs and Mainstreaming”

(At the Ninth Session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention

on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities)

CR4, UN Headquarters

15 June 2016



I’m representing the Japan International Cooperation Agency, an implementing agency of Official Development Assistance of the Japanese Government.


We have been promoting disability-inclusive development in our development cooperation programs and we have learned three things:

  1. Targeted programs on disability to remove barriers, implemented in collaboration with disabled people’s organizations (DPOs), are effective in strengthening the foundation for mainstreaming disability;
  2. We must address multiple barriers in these programs; and
  3. Mainstreaming disability must start from changing the mindset of all stakeholders and that can only be done by the active participation of persons with disabilities.


I would like to share with you an example of a targeted program from the field. In Malaysia, we have been collaborating with the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development for over ten years to establish a supported employment system. In our program, we addressed barriers in the social, environmental and political domains which resulted in the creation of employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.


In this program, we had two pillars: Disability Equality Training (DET) and the job coach system. They were both effective in removing social and environmental barriers. Also, there was a strong political commitment of the Government of Malaysia.


The key feature of DET is that persons with disabilities are the facilitators. They guide the participants to recognize existing barriers in the society and to think about what actions they can take to change the situation. There are over 60 facilitators with various types of disabilities active in Malaysia and some senior trainers who can train more facilitators by themselves.


In the last three years, over 300 entities, including government agencies and companies, had their staff participate in DET. We have seen much improvement in the services they provide to their clients with disabilities as well as an increase in their employment oopportunities.


DET has also proven to be a powerful tool for empowering persons with disabilities to act as agents of change and to promote understanding of disability among non-disabled persons.


As for job coaches, they provide support to both persons with disabilities and their employers to facilitate their adaption to the workplace. Over 1200 job coaches and some senior trainers have been trained so far to install a sustainable training cycle. With their support, in the last three years, over 650 persons with diverse types of disabilities have been employed. 60% of them have intellectual or psychosocial disabilities. There is now a strong partnership nurtured with the private sector, CBR centers and local NGOs.


As for political commitment, which is crucial in making these activities sustainable, the Government of Malaysia has taken various measures. For example, Job Coach Unit was established in the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development. A new subsidy system was set up for companies to utilize job coach services. Furthermore, the National Development Plan clearly mentions the job coach system. In addition, government ministries are securing budget for utilizing DET for their staff training.


From this program, we have learned:

  1. It is crucial that persons with disabilities play the central role in these programs;
  2. Cross-disability approach was effective in bringing DPOs together and creating employment opportunities for persons with diverse types of disabilities;
  3. Community-based inclusive approach, engaging CBR centers and local NGOs which work closely with the community, was another key factor; and
  4. From the planning stage, we had a grand design consisting of policy, institutional system and human resource development, which was essential in putting a sustainable system in place.


We also value the importance of global partnership. In this program, Malaysian job coaches provided training in China and Jordan. In addition, 20 countries in the Asia-Pacific region have participated in seminars and workshops hosted by the Malaysian Government, in which their experience was shared.


As for DET, there are over 360 facilitators in 35 countries who are part of an international network of the DET Forum. Through this initiative, south-south cooperation among persons with disabilities is expanding.


Let me move on to our efforts on mainstreaming disability in our programs across sectors.

As for the measures we are taking within our organization

  1. On policy, the Development Cooperation Charter of the Japanese Government clearly mentions the importance of including persons with disabilities and ensuring equal opportunities;
  2. We have seen much progress in disability awareness within JICA, through training and workshops facilitated by our colleagues with disabilities;
  3. We are now making efforts to insert a disability perspective in our programs across sectors. To that end, we are reviewing position papers, guidelines and procedures; and
  4. We feel the need to accumulate more evidence to show to all the stakeholders that disability mainstreaming benefits the whole society.


In our programs with partner countries:

  1. We provide support to the national focal points to develop their capacity to facilitate the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in coordination with various stakeholders;
  2. We continue to place importance on disability awareness raising, which is the foundation for mainstreaming;
  3. We also facilitate discussion on mainstreaming among DPOs and government officials by, for example, inviting them together to training programs in Japan; and
  4. As mentioned earlier, we believe in the importance of south-south cooperation through which countries can share good practices and learn from one another.


In closing, I would like to reiterate our conviction that targeted programs on disability to remove multiple barriers, implemented in collaboration with DPOS, can strengthen the foundation for disability mainstreaming, because persons with disabilities have the power to change the society. We believe in it, because we have witnessed it in many countries, and we will continue to support it.


As a bilateral development agency, we are committed to promote disability-inclusive development and are determined to make efforts on disability mainstreaming towards achieving the 2030 development agenda. Thank you very much for your kind attention.





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