In the latest bid for affirmative action for disabled citizens, Turkey announced the employment of 1,304 disabled citizens in the public sector.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hosted a ceremony at the presidential complex in the capital Ankara Thursday to launch the employment scheme. With the latest appointments, the number of disabled people employed in the public sector since 2019 reached 3,200.
The country has adopted a set of regulations in recent years to improve the lives of the disabled. Turkey was one of the first countries to adopt the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities in 2007 and launched affirmative action policies for the disabled in 2010. The government has offered incentives for workplaces employing disabled citizens since 2014.
Through incentives for private companies, the country ensured employment of 124,000 disabled people and runs a project to help the disabled find jobs. Businesses creating jobs for the disabled are eligible for free loans and tax incentives as well as partial payment for each disabled employee they hire.
Regulations were implemented to increase the employment quota for the disabled and introduced monthly benefits for families with disabled members cared for at home. The disabled are also provided free passes for public transit.
Through a state-run employment agency, Turkey provides free loans for disabled entrepreneurs and for projects involving mass employment of disabled people.
Speaking at the ceremony, Erdoğan said the number of disabled citizens employed in the public sector since 2002 substantially increased. "We work to give them the best future. (Under Justice and Development Party (AK Party) governments), the number of disabled civil servants increased 10 times and reached 56,500," he said.
The president said they worked to improve social policies in parallel with increasing national income. "In the past 17 years, we delivered social aid worth TL 339 billion," he underlined, adding that their social policies reached out to every community, from the disabled to children, widows, orphans and relatives of terror victims.
Erdoğan also noted the necessity of accessibility for the social inclusion of the disabled and said they declared 2020 the "year of accessibility." "We should create accessibility for our citizens, be it in entrances of buildings or access to mass transit vehicles," he said.
The disabled community often faces obstacles in accessibility, something that is crucial for social inclusion. A lack of ramps for wheelchairs, parking spaces for the disabled or lanes on sidewalks designated for disabled citizens hinders accessibility for many in the country, which is home to some 4.8 million disabled citizens.