‘…The pandemic has changed the working culture, especially for people with disabilities. The ability to work from home expands the options available for employers, including parliament, to adapt and meet the needs of people with disabilities when designing workplace accommodations’, – Jewelles Smith, Council of Canadians with Disabilities.
On May 12, 2021, the Parliamentary Centre held an important Discovery Session for Armenian Civil Society Organisations on engaging with parliamentary administrations on issues related to career opportunities and accommodations for youth, women and persons with disabilities.
Bringing together Canadian and Armenian civil society advocates, members of the international community and Her Excellency Anahit Harutyunyan, Armenian Ambassador to Canada, the session provided a unique opportunity to share international knowledge and perspectives around this critical issue of inclusion.
In her opening remarks, Ambassador Harutyunyan underlined the importance of addressing the challenges faced by women, youth and people with disabilities while trying to work and pursue job opportunities with the Armenian parliament. She said of the discovery session, “such discussions could provide a platform for sharing ideas and professional experiences aimed at strengthening capacities of the Armenian parliament. Recently, the Armenian parliament has adopted a law on the rights of people with disabilities and it will be very important for your further work”.
Armenian civil society organizations were also active in the conversation. Karine Grigoryan, the President of “Agate” Rights Defense Center for Women with Disabilities, who has spent years advocating the adoption of the aforementioned law protecting the rights of people with disabilities, was also present. She emphasized the need for institutional accommodation, a shift in societal attitudes and for capacity building within these affected communities, saying, “Women living with disabilities don’t get a proper education. Thus, building capacity for women with disabilities is crucial for women with disabilities to be able to work for the National Assembly’s administration.”
Jewelles Smith, Communications & Government Relations Coordinator at the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), explained how CCD has spent years advocating for the accommodation of persons with disabilities in the Canadian public service. “Accommodation is as important as numbers: once individuals are employed, they should be able to advance in the institution”. Jewelles concluded that now is an especially important moment for persons with disabilities around the world stating that the “…pandemic has changed the working culture, especially for people with disabilities. The ability to work from home expands the options available for employers, including parliament, to adapt and meet the needs of people with disabilities when designing workplace accommodations”.
This conversation was an excellent opportunity for sharing Canadian and international experiences of parliamentary and civil society cooperation in bringing about reforms for better career opportunities and accommodations for youth, women and persons with disabilities. Furthermore, it will help prepare Armenian CSOs for the first ever roundtable with the National Assembly’s administration on issues of inclusion.
This session was held in the framework of the project ‘Support to Parliamentary reform in Armenia’ and is made possible with the support of the Pro Dem Fund of Global Affairs Canada.