What did you do this year to promote gender equality?

As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2023, Max Tuñon, Head of the ILO in Qatar, and Marie-José Tayah, ILO Technical Specialist on Social Dialogue, reflect on the importance of enabling discussions on decent work for women in Qatar.

Comment | 08 March 2023
By Max Tuñón and Marie-José Tayah from the ILO in Qatar
Around the world, International Women’s Day (IWD) is a chance for us all to reflect on how we are promoting decent work for women. This reflection is even more important as we emerge from the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global labour markets, and into a period of continued economic uncertainty.

At the same time, the pandemic has sped up digital transformation and, as a result, opportunities for part-time or home-based work through online platforms, have become a major draw for women with child or elderly care responsibilities. According to ILO’s 2021 World Employment and Social Outlook, about 23 per cent of women working online have children under the age of six. Digital labour platforms have brought their own set of challenges, however, extending informality into new sectors, promoting asymmetric ‘employment’ relationships that are governed by unilaterally defined service agreements and algorithmic management.

A number of these global trends have applied to Qatar and in response, the Ministry of Labour and the ILO have facilitated discussions around a mix of active labour market and gender equality policies to increase female labour participation in line with Qatar National Vision 2030. The Government adopted policies in 2023 that seek to enhance women’s employment opportunities, and is complementing this with support to bottom-up, corporate policies on gender equality.

For the ILO, an important starting point for policy consultations is to enhance women’s equal participation and voice in social dialogue at the enterprise, sectoral, and national levels. These consultations must be inclusive of all women, regardless of nationality, profession, and skill level. In that vein, we welcome the willingness of those national institutions and companies that have opened their doors to the Ministry of Labour and the ILO to support gender assessments through consultations with management and workers’ representatives. These assessments and consultations are helping companies to better align their corporate policies and practices with ILO’s Convention on Discrimination in Employment and Occupation (No. 111), which was ratified by Qatar in 1976.

We are also supporting the establishment of standing women committees and networks to bring their views and experiences to these policy discussions. For example, an elected committee of women employees from Qatar Foundation’s supplier companies has been formed to discuss the experience of women in the facilities management, private security, and catering sectors.

As consultations with different women constituencies are underway, there are many more entry points that will contribute to improving employment outcomes for women in Qatar at scale, amongst those:
  • Gender responsive public procurement and gender responsive due diligence to minimise adverse business impacts on women;
  • Gender mainstreaming into occupational safety and health prevention strategies and policies and gender responsive labour inspection;
  • Innovative work arrangements to ensure gender balance in care responsibilities at home and avoid reinforcing gender inequalities in the workplace; and,
  • Mainstreaming gender equality, diversity and inclusion into business school curricula and tools for SME incubators and accelerators, especially in the digital economy where working time flexibility is a pull factor for women.
We continue to benefit from the support of numerous partners in the implementation of this ambitious agenda, both national and international.

We all have a role to play. How are you reflecting on your institution’s progress on gender equality this year and how can we support each other in moving forward on gender equality in the workplace?