GENEVA (ILO News) ─ Despite efforts by the international community, gender stereotyping and employment barriers continue to affect millions of young women and men around the world, said the International Labour Organization today on the occasion of International Youth Day.
Five years after International Youth Day raised the issue of high unemployment and under-employment rates for young people, the ILO is calling for renewed attention on behalf of governments and social partners to avert the growing youth employment crisis. One billion young people will reach working age within the next decade.
“It is imperative that we work together to strengthen the productive potential of young women and men”, said Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Office.
The particular dimensions of youth employment vary according to sex, age, ethnicity, educational level and training, family background, health status and disability, among others. But the overall picture shows that the labour force participation rates for young women are far lower than those for young men.
Equal access to quality education and training for girls and boys remains the best start to finding decent work. However, even where young women’s education levels are the same or higher than men’s, young women face more difficulties in the transition to working life because of continued labour market discrimination. And when they do find a job, it is often lower paid and in the informal economy, making them more vulnerable to poverty and marginalization.
“A key employment challenge is tackling occupational segregation of traditionally accepted ‘male’ and ‘female’ jobs, and to break the gender barriers in opening up professions to both sexes,” explains Geir Tonstol of the ILO Bureau for Gender Equality. “In many countries young women are still encouraged to train in relatively low-skilled and poorly paid ‘feminine’ occupations with little prospect of upward mobility, while young men are encouraged to go into modern technology-based training and employment, which often pay better.”
As part of its year-long campaign on “Gender Equality at the Heart of Decent Work”, the ILO is actively promoting decent employment for young women and men everywhere, highlighting that rather than being viewed as a problem, the inflow of young people into the labour market should be recognized as an enormous opportunity and potential for economic and social development.
For more information on the themes of the Gender Equality at the Heart of Decent Work campaign, please visit www.ilo.org/gender. For more information on the ILO’s work on youth employment, please visit www.ilo.org/youth.
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