Harkin International Disability Employment Summit

“The unemployment rate among adult Americans with disabilities who want to work and can work is over 60 percent. That is a blot on our national character.” – Senator Tom Harkin in his farewell speech to the U.S. Senate.

Check back soon for additional details on the
2020 Harkin Summit!

Employment is key to independence and economic sustainability to ensure the world’s largest minority, people with disabilities, get a fair shot.

The Harkin Summit brings together high-level representatives and grassroots implementers from around the world – all working to increase the employment of people with disabilities. Representatives from business, disability advocacy, government, education, foundations, and NGOs bring their lessons from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe and the Americas to identify and create strategies to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

The coronavirus carries unique risks for high-risk individuals including the elderly and people with disabilities. The Harkin Institute is gathering resources specifically helpful for these groups.

Harkin International Disability Employment Journal 2018

The 2018 Harkin International Disability Employment Journal provides detailed information and takeaways from the the third Harkin Summit, which took place November 15-16, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

2019 Harkin Summit Report

The 2019 Harkin Summit Report summarizes some of the headline messages from this important gathering in Paris, France, April 8-9, 2019.

Harkin Challenge

“We need to be open to bold new ideas that no one has tried before. We need to be willing to take risks and fail, because that is how we will learn. And we need to listen to each other across sectors, with disabled people and their organizations always helping to center the strategies on the goals and dreams of disabled people…who seek to have jobs, careers, and lives filled with meaning and purpose, with the dignity and self-esteem that come from earning a decent living and being a valued member of your community.”  – Senator Tom Harkin (retired), 2017 Harkin Summit


In November 2017, Senator Tom Harkin (Retired) issued a challenge of doubling the labor force participate rate globally for persons with disabilities in the next decade. The following resources can help organizations fulfill their goal of employment more people with disabilities.

Inclusive Employment: How to develop projects which promote the employment of people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations (2011): This paper applies the mandate and values of Humanity & Inclusion to inclusive employment activities. View report here and brief format here.

Situation of Wage Employment of People with Disabilities: This white paper is based on the results of a qualitative study of Handicap International’s inclusive livelihoods programs in 10 developing countries. The paper’s goal is to increase wage employment of people with disabilities by providing employers with the best practices showcasing successful wage employment facilitated by Handicap International and partner businesses, enterprises, and organizations. View the report here.

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