Gender equality

An internal job as well

A global backlog

On average, women have worse jobs than men, and with fewer opportunities for promotion. They also earn less, even for the same work. Moreover, women often bear a double burden: Worldwide, they perform an average of three quarters of the domestic work that is unpaid. In several cultures, access to the labour market is made impossible or difficult for them, which is one of the reasons women are overrepresented in the informal sector. In South Asia, 80 percent of women in non-farm jobs have an informal working relationship, and in sub-Saharan Africa it is 74 percent. This means that women have fewer rights and security, and that their safety and health are more at risk. Violence, intimidation, and discrimination affect women more than men, and this applies even more to LGBTI people and migrants.

Corona crisis

The corona crisis has also taken a greater toll on women than on men, as they are overrepresented in the hardest hit sectors, such as the garment industry and floriculture. Household and care workers also had a hard time, as they ran a higher risk of illness, violence, and loss of work and income. Since women were more likely than men to care for sick relatives, their double burden became even greater.

Positive developments

Fortunately, several positive developments can help to counter this. The #MeToo movement has put sexual harassment in the spotlight. With the ILO Convention on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work (C190), an important weapon has been added. Sustainable Development Goal 5, gender equality, also strongly supports women. The trade union movement is playing an active role in this, but still has a great deal of work to do, including internally. While the number of female union members worldwide has risen to 42.4 percent, women are still underrepresented, with only 28 percent in positions of leadership in the trade union movement. In addition, many more men than women participate in collective bargaining and in social dialogues.

Our goal

We want to see gender equality and safety at work as well as a workplace free of violence and harassment.

How do we operate?

We follow four tracks:

  • Strengthening the position of women within the trade union movement. The number of female members must increase, as must the representation of women in leadership positions and negotiating delegations. We want women to have as much power, control, and influence as men. In addition, unions must look closely at their strategy, collective bargaining, and lobbying through the perspective of gender. We continue to work on a better representation of migrants and LGBTI people in trade unions. We do, however, proceed with caution, because society and the government in various countries are not open to this subject.
  • Form alliances with civil society organisations. Together with these organisations, we are lobbying for ratification of ILO Convention C190 in as many countries as possible. We are increasing our efforts with regard to marginalised groups of workers, and we support unions in developing their own strategies relating to gender.
  • Put pressure on employers. We urge them to set out directives/guidelines on gender equality and safety in the workplace in gender-friendly collective labour agreements. There should be tools to ensure the safety of workers, especially women, as well as grievance mechanisms in case something does go wrong.
  • Persuade governments. We urge ratification of ILO Convention C190 together with the development of legislation based on it. Implementation should be closely monitored, along with complaints procedures and the protection of workers against retaliation. We also ask governments to push employers for policies that prevent violence and harassment in the workplace.

In which regions and countries do we operate?

South Asia, Indonesia, the MENA region (the Middle East and North Africa), and Ethiopia.

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