Gender Equality and Decent Work
Decent Work refers to the ability for men and women to a certain quality and standard of experience in the workplace which ensures respect for their human dignity and which upholds the principles of equity, including gender equality. Decent work encompasses factors such as income opportunities, social protection and social security, employment rights, and gender equality. The four strategic objectives of ‘decent work’ identified by the UN agency responsible for labor laws, the International Labor Organization (ILO)'s 2008-2009 Campaign “Gender Equality at the Heart of Decent Work” are:
- fundamental principles and rights at work and international labour standards;
- employment and income opportunities;
- social protection and social security; and
- social dialogue and tripartism.
These objectives apply to all workers, women and men, in both formal and informal economies; in wage employment or working on their own account; in the fields, factories and offices; in their home or in the community.
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Tripartite effort to achieve Decent Work
Decent Work requires the commitment and collaboration of three parties: workers, employers, and governments. This presents a challenge on the national level, even if all parties agree to the principles of Decent Work. The three parties each play an important role in achieving the goals of Decent Work:
- National governments create Decent Work through economic and industrial policies. However, the forces of globalization – such as downward pressures on wages and reduced macroeconomic policy flexibility – have diminished the ability of national governments to achieve this goal on their own.
- Businesses create jobs from the local to international levels, and those operating across borders can affect international wages and working conditions. Multinational enterprises typically locate operations in countries where wages are at their lowest and so called “worker’s rights” are less prominent. This is antithetical to the Decent Work agenda, although it does contribute to economic development.
- Trade unions assist employees in advocating for elements of Decent Work, from a so-called “living wage” to health insurance to workplace safety standards. Trade unions face the challenge of meeting their members’ immediate needs at home while supporting job creation and “workers’ rights” around the globe.
Decent Work and Gender Equality
The ILO's 20008-2009 Campaign “Gender Equality at the Heart of Decent Work” aims to advocate decent work for women and gender equality in labour policies and agreements and to seek gender equality in trade union structures, policies and activities. The second objective aims at increasing number of women members in trade unions and women in elected positions. See “See Also” for more information.
Decent work is central to efforts to reduce poverty, and is a means for achieving equitable, inclusive and sustainable development. Decent Work is an objective for agencies working in developing countries where proportionally more women than men have less security in employment, are more likely to be in informal industries, are vulnerable in periods of maternity leave and pregnancy, and face inequality in income and career development opportunities.
ILO instruments to promote gender equality
- the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111) provides that member States are to declareand pursue a national policy to promote equality of opportunity and treatment in respect of employment and occupation, with a view to eliminating discrimination. The prohibited grounds of discrimination enumerated include sex as well as race, colour, religion, political opinion,national extraction and social origin.
- the Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100), which specifically addresses the issue of equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal value.
- the Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention,1981 (No. 156), and
- the Maternity Protection Convention, 2000 (No. 183).
- ILO's 20008-2009 Campaign “Gender Equality at the Heart of Decent Work”