Social Dialogue at work: Voices and choices for women and men

February 2009 theme of the Gender Equality at the Heart of Decent Work Campaign, 2008-2009

As the past decades have witnessed a steady increase in women entering the workforce, whether as employers or workers, women have also increased their participation in the relevant institutions of social dialogue. However, the participation rates of women remain low. When participating in social dialogue and within their own organizations, women have been more active in bringing gender equality issues to the forefront. Thus an increased involvement of women in social dialogue has resulted in greater attention to gender issues. In a way the participation of women in the institutions of social dialogue is itself a key to promoting gender equality.

The main goal of social dialogue is to promote consensus building and democratic involvement among the stakeholders in the world of work - representatives of governments, employers and workers. Successful social dialogue - which includes all types of negotiation, consultation or exchange of information between and among these stakeholders - depends on structures and processes that create the potential to resolve important economic and social issues, encourage good governance, advance social and industrial stability and boost economic progress. Social dialogue therefore is an important means to achieve social justice.

As social dialogue echoes the needs and aspirations of its participants, women and men should be represented in an equitable way to have their voices heard without fear of reprisal.

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