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Enabling the disabled in Turkmenistan: Public-Private-International Partnership


It was a humbling experience to be in that crowd. It was a congregation of heroes. It was an assemblage of conquerors.

There were those with disabilities who were determined, prepared and ready to be useful and productive members of the society, seeking a fair chance, not pity.

And, then there were those who had worked hard in so many different ways to create the environment and opportunities for the disabled.

The venue was the UN House in Ashgabat and the occasion was the first career fair for the disabled, bringing together the candidates and the prospective employers.

On that pre-autumn morning of 30 August 2018, as I walked toward the glass door of the UN Building, a slim young man quickened his step and joined me. We shook hands. His right hand could not grip my hand – there were no fingers. The handshake, nevertheless, was warm and responsive.

As I entered the spacious lobby, the people with different disabilities, the members of the UN system in Turkmenistan, the representatives of the government, the partner organizations and embassies, and the prospective employers were milling about.

Spearheaded and anchored by the UNDP, the event had drawn some 80 representatives from the public and private sector, and about 100 participants with disabilities.

Among the prospective employers, there were 10 companies, including 4 Turkmen, 2 public associations, and 4 foreign.

For holding this event the UNDP partnered with the ministry of labour and social protection and the union of industrialists and entrepreneurs of Turkmenistan.

Active support was provided by the embassies of China, UK, US, France, Korea, and Germany, and the governments of New Zealand and Finland.

The candidates, on average, distributed 5 CVs and signed up for the database of the private employment exchange Orlan.


* * *


One of the first persons I spoke to was Elena [Panova], the head of the UNDP and resident coordinator of the UN system in Turkmenistan.

“I am worried,” she said with motherly concern. “We have tried to prepare them and I hope they perform well in their interviews,” she said.

Speaking of motherly concern, it is not a matter of age or even gender. Going by age alone, Elana would hardly be an elder sister to most of the candidates.

Motherly concern is the unstoppable urge to nurture, support, and protect selflessly. Motherly concern is not necessarily a biological thing. It is one of the signs of an evolved human-being, irrespective of their gender.

* * *

There was hope, determination, and cordiality in the air.

For instance Chary, who is confined to a wheelchair, runs fitness clubs and gym for the disabled in Ashgabat and the Ahal province.

Allamurat, who is also wheelchair bound, was a cook and now he is ready to start his new career as graphic designer. He has a fresh diploma in Corel Draw.

Ovezmurat is a university graduate with specialization in the Arabic language. He has previously worked with a state tourism company as head of the international department.

Jennet specializes in the Turkish language and also possesses managerial skills.

Yenme (www.yenme.org) is an NGO that provides social support to the disabled, the orphans, and the socially vulnerable groups.

Bouygues was among the foreign companies participating in the career fair for the disabled.

The local companies were also accepting CVs from the applicants.








Blog post Europe & Central Asia Turkmenistan Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Sustainable development Inclusive growth Jobs and livelihoods Goal 10 Reduced inequalities

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