Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Decent Work for Women and Men Assures a Better Deal for Families

This year’s theme “Families Matter for the Achievement of Development Goals” recognises the role of families and policies to support them in achieving internationally agreed development goals.
Today’s families are diverse, defying traditional models such as those based on a male breadwinner and jobs for life. There are now many single parent households – often women, and grandparent-headed households. In their different shapes and sizes, families are active agents of development. Yet their contribution, actual and potential, is often undervalued and inadequately supported, and many families are under severe pressure.

Decent work is a key link in the chain connecting families and development. Work-related policies and practices play a major role in creating family-supportive environments which, in turn, yield benefits for the world of work and society.
The ILO has a body of standards established with that goal in mind. The Convention on Workers with Family Responsibilities provides guidance on measures that support and protect workers who must discharge responsibilities for dependents. Critically, it recognizes the role of women and men in sharing family responsibilities and calls for support measures for both.
The evidence shows that such family-oriented policies can reach beyond the formal economy and contribute to poverty reduction, better outcomes for children, greater gender equality and improved work-family balance. They support the right to employment and the right to equality.
They also contribute to productive businesses by enabling women’s return to work and skills preservation after maternity leave, and by promoting lower rates of absenteeism and better performance and commitment at the workplace.
Maternity protection was one of the first labour rights of women in work addressed by ILO constituents and included in the constitutional mandate of the Organization. Three maternity Conventions have been adopted during the course of ILO’s history, the first one in 1919, the year of the Organization’s founding.
The ILO’s report on “Maternity and paternity at work: Law and practice across the world” provides a picture of where we stand and what we have learned so far on these issues. It tells a mixed story.
The findings suggest that the three maternity Conventions have had a broad influence with virtually all countries which have adopted maternity protection legislation. Over the last 20 years, there have been noticeable improvements in terms of longer rest periods at the time of childbirth.
We have moved towards collective systems in which social insurance or public funds alone, or in conjunction with employers, provide maternity leave cash benefits. An increasing number of countries at all levels of development are also implementing measures to support both, mothers’ and fathers’ care responsibilities.
This is encouraging. However, progress has been uneven and needs to be expedited.
The impact of the crisis has further exacerbated pre-existing gaps and inequalities, often with devastating consequences for families. Over 800 million women workers globally are still not adequately protected with leave and cash benefits in case of maternity. Almost 80 per cent of them are in Africa and Asia.
Effective access to quality maternal and child health care is still not universal. Discrimination based on pregnancy, maternity and family responsibilities is endemic everywhere. Many formal and informal workplaces remain unsafe and unhealthy for all workers, especially pregnant and nursing women. Fathers’ take-up of childcare leave is still very low.
Additionally, in the important area of care provision for children, the elderly and people with disabilities or illnesses, the services and facilities that recognize, value and support such work – both paid and unpaid – as a “public good,” are generally lacking.
Decent work policies aim to secure a mutually reinforcing relationship between parenthood and family responsibilities on the one hand and quality and productive jobs for women and men on the other.
In this process, tripartite social dialogue between government, workers and employers has proved effective in shaping policies in areas such as maternity, paternity, childcare and elder care needs.
Employers’ organizations can give leadership by promoting policies which allow a paid job to be combined with family responsibilities. This ensures that women in the labour force are not penalized for their reproductive role. Workers’ organizations have long supported maternity protection as a basic right in striving towards equality in employment, and are crucial to the renewal of populations and the labour force.
Legislation designed in line with the relevant international labour standards and effectively implemented provides a solid base for action. At the same time there is need for improved statistical information to measure gaps and progress.
Decent work for women and men assures a better deal for families and it enables families to help build a better future for all.

Ryder is ILO Director-General
source:::workers power

No comments:

Post a Comment