SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
UNITED NATIONS
Applauding the decision to include gender equality as a key plank of the newly-adopted 2030 development agenda, a senior United Nations labour agency official has stressed the importance of empowering women in employment, salaries and the working environment, urging governments to commit to this achievable, basic right.
“The world has fallen short in bringing women’s employment, earnings and working conditions in line with those of men,” Shauna Olney, Chief of Gender, Equality and Diversity Branch at the International Labour Organization (ILO), said, while acknowledging progress made in education and maternal mortality.
The quality of jobs is paramount. However, Ms. Olney stated that half of women are employed globally and their wages are about ¾ of what men earn, in addition to their domestic responsibilities.
Workplace violence and under-representation in senior positions are two other prominent issues to tackle, according to Ms. Olney.
Moving on to women’s social and economic status, she said cultural traditions and economic conditions cannot excuse discrimination and other violations of fundamental human rights. Countries, she said, cannot any longer afford to lose out on this aspect of gender parity.
“ILO equality Conventions, addressing discrimination, equal remuneration for work of equal value, maternity protection and work and family measures, including access to parental leave as well as quality and affordable social care services for dependent family members, provide the road map for action,” said Ms. Olney.
More countries are making public policies by considering the root causes and results of gender inequality and discriminations, among which Chile, France and Ethiopia have set some good examples.
Until appreciation and measures of women’s work are made will there be gender equality , highlighted Ms. Olney.
She went on to spotlight ILO’s Women at Work Centenary Initiative, which has been prepared for the centenary of the agency, saying that it showcases a leading role ILO plays in guiding the transformation to gender equality in the workplace.
“Promoting decent jobs for women is imperative,” Ms. Olney echoed ILO’s Director General, adding that “Goal 5 is achievable. The evidence is there and the commitments as well. It is now time to take action and invest in women.”