An Egyptian portal opens employment opportunities for people with disabilities

Since its launch, Majidah has registered close to16,000 persons with disabilities. (Supplied)
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Updated 03 January 2020

An Egyptian portal opens employment opportunities for people with disabilities

  • Majidah offers training programs and matches different individuals to jobs based on their skill set
  • Platform has more than 16,000 people with disabilities registered on its online platform

CAIRO: Work opportunities are hard to come by for the nearly 12 million people with disabilities living in Egypt.

Mindful of the challenges facing such individuals, non-profit organization Ebtessama launched Majidah this year to improve their chances of employment.

“Majidah was born out of our on-the-ground efforts and experience for over 12 years,” said Ashraf Osman, chairman of the board of Ebtessama.

“We work on the training, qualification and employment of people with disabilities.”

Things have been changing in Egypt over the past couple of years, with both government and non-government bodies trying to improve the working conditions of individuals with disabilities amid numerous challenges.

“There were entities out there (that) wanted to train or hire people with disabilities, but they weren’t properly in touch with one another, and the communications were extremely random,” Osman, 39, said.

“So, while constantly growing, the numbers of people we were able to help were still far from enough.”

Cairo-based Majidah came to life to fix the apparent communications dilemma. “It’s a training and employment platform with all different entities that work on qualifying and hiring people with disabilities under one umbrella,” Osman said.

Through Majidah, people with disabilities gained access to a service they desperately needed, and it was made possible by virtue of technology.

“Some of them need a special kind of training or preparation to work, and then they need to find a place to hire them.

Workplaces, on the other hand, need to be able to reach people who are suitable for the vacancies they have, as well as an entity to train them if necessary,” Osman said.

The online platform connects all these different parties. A person with a disability will register on Majidah as someone looking for a job, mentioning their disability, skills, previous experience and other relevant information.

“It’s a smart platform, capable of matching the different parties based on the data collected from each,” Osman said.

“The company looking to hire, on the other hand, mentions its vacancies and the desired set of skills. The training entity would add in what trainings it offers and the skills the trainee would acquire.”

Creating a platform like this was not easy, and financing was naturally going to be the biggest problem.

“Majidah is a new idea. Past approaches were mostly concerned with on-the-ground action, but this was more focused on the future, which made it hard to find funding since most sources felt uneasy backing something that isn’t tangible,” Osman said.

Thankfully, Vodafone Egypt Foundation stepped in and provided the resources needed to launch the platform.

“The second challenge we faced was making people believe in what we were doing, which was not plausible for many,” Osman said.

“Fortunately, because many really needed this and our team worked really hard, we started getting interaction with the platform, and now we have close to 16,000 persons with disabilities registered.”

Majidah, whose soft launch took place several months ago, will be fully operational in November, but the future holds more for the platform, including improved communication among all parties to exchange experiences and knowledge.

“We want to provide a lot of services for people with disabilities without them having to go anywhere, things they usually have to move to get,” Osman said.

“When it comes to training and hiring people with disabilities, we’re all learning and experimenting. So, we need to share the success stories as well as the failures because we’ll learn a lot from both.”

To continue providing its service, Majidah needs all the support that it can get. “I hope everyone who can help in any way possible in what we’re doing steps in,” Osman said.

“If we all stand together, we’ll truly be able to make a difference.

“We’re talking about millions here, and if we all don’t do our part, they won’t be able to get their basic human right of having a job.”

This report is being published by Arab News as a partner of the Middle East Exchange, which was launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region. 


So-called honor killing of teen girl brings outcry in Iran

Updated 48 min 55 sec ago

So-called honor killing of teen girl brings outcry in Iran

  • Iranian president Rouhani has urged his cabinet to speed up the introduction of harsher laws against such killings

TEHRAN: The so-called honor killing of a 14-year-old Iranian girl by her father, who reportedly used a farming sickle to behead her as she slept, has prompted a nationwide outcry.
Reza Ashrafi, now in custody, was apparently enraged when he killed his daughter Romina on Thursday after she ran away with 34-year-old Bahamn Khavari in Talesh, some 320 kilometers (198 miles) northwest of the capital, Tehran.
In traditional societies in the Middle East, including Iran, blame would typically fall on a runaway girl for purportedly having sullied her family’s honor, rather than on an adult male luring away a child.
Romina was found five days after leaving home and taken to a police station, from where her father brought her back home. The girl reportedly told the police she feared a violent reaction from her father.
On Wednesday, a number of national newspapers featured the story prominently and the social media hashtag #RominaAshrafi reportedly has been used thousands times on social media, with most users condemning the killing.
Proposed legislation against honor killings has apparently shuttled for years among various decision-making bodies in Iran.
On Wednesday, Romina Ashrafi’s case led Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to urge his Cabinet to speed up harsher laws against such killings and he pushed for speedy adoption of relevant legislation.
There is little data on honor killings in Iran, where local media occasionally report on such cases. Under the law, girls can marry after the age of 13, though the average age of marriage for Iranian women is 23. It is not known how many women and young girls are killed by family members or close relatives because of their actions, perceived as violating conservative Islamic norms on love and marriage.
Iran’s judiciary said Romina’s case will be tried in a special court. Under the current law, her father faces a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Iran’s vice president in charge of family affairs, Masoumeh Ebtekar, expressed hope that a bill with harsher punishments will soon be in the final stages of approval.
Shahnaz Sajjadi, special assistant to citizens’ rights in the presidential directorate on women and family affairs, on Wednesday told the news website “We should revise the idea that home is a safe place for children and women. Crimes that happen against women in the society are less than those that happen in the homes.”