“The primary goal of the ILO today is to promote opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work, in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity.”
Juan Somavia, former ILO Director General (1999-2012)
Work is one of the few experiences common to most of humanity. It not only plays an obvious and crucial role in the well-being of workers and their families but paves the way to the broader social and economic development of individuals, their communities and societies.
But progress depends not just on enough work being available but on its quality too. Work that traps people in bondage or poverty (rather than releasing them from it), or exposes them to hazards, discrimination or insecurity, does not allow individuals – or the economies they are part of - to advance and fulfil their potential.
Decent work therefore sums up the aspirations all people have for their working lives; for work that is productive, delivers a fair income with security and social protection, safeguards basic rights, offers equality of opportunity and treatment, prospects for personal development and the chance for recognition and to have your voice heard. Decent work is also central to efforts to reduce poverty and is a path to achieving equitable, inclusive and sustainable development. Ultimately decent work underpins peace and security in communities and societies.
“Decent Work for All” is therefore the principle that guides the ILO’s work. To promote this goal the ILO’s Asia Pacific members have committed themselves to an Asian Decent Work Decade (2006-2015), and in doing so reaffirmed their commitment to achieving full, productive and decent employment for all their people by 2015.
To help realize the aims of the Decade five regional priority areas have been selected:
- Competitiveness, productivity and jobs – Promoting sustainable enterprises in Asia and the Pacific;
- Labour market governance in Asia and the Pacific;
- The youth employment challenge in Asia and the Pacific;
- Protecting migrant workers; and
- Local development for decent work.
These priorities compliment each member country’s individual goals, which are outlined in their National Decent Work Country Programmes.