Stories of decent work in Asia and the Pacific

Article | 18 October 2011


Helping former Afghan fighters reintegrate
Former fighters and their families get help to resume normal lives under the Reintegration Support Project for Ex-combatants (RSPE), run by the government with ILO support. August 2007


Cambodia’s young people look for a brighter future
Story of Yeth Chenda, a young Cambodian who recently found a job as a receptionist in a rural hotel in Kampot, with the assistance of an ILO job center project. October 2011

Freeing Cambodia’s children from work by 2016 – A real possibility?
Story of Nit's family, who lives in a shaky thatch hut a short walk from the magnificent Ta Prohm ruins in the Angkor World Heritage Site. Like her mother, aunt and grandmother, Nit now sells bracelets, postcards and magnets to tourists. October 2011

Training better supervisors means better business for Cambodia’s factories
Poeu Sampors, a 31-year-old mother of one, supervises 102 workers at a garment factory in Cambodia. After taking a supervisory skills training offered by the ILO’s Better Factories Programme and the International Finance Corporation, her workers became happier and more productive. March 2011

Indigenous Cambodians’ long wait for collective land ownership
Indigenous Cambodians in Modulkiri celebrates the Government’s long-awaited adoption of a Policy for Indigenous Peoples that recognizes their cultures and rights to education, vocational skills, health, land, agriculture and other resources. March 2010

By cooking and cleaning, Cambodia’s Mr Mom sweeps away poverty
Sin Sok Ly, a village chief, has become the “Mr Mom” of the Cambodian countryside. After his wife was trained in entrepreurship by the ILO, and he took an ILO course on gender equality, the resulting role-reversal has brought prosperity and happiness. June 2009


Youth join green jobs push in China
Yang Shumbo, an electronic sciences student in Chengdu invented an electricity-saving device, which he, with the help of the ILO’s Greener Business Option (GBO), turns into a new business. February 2011

ILO, China launch first HIV/AIDS prevention campaign for internal rural migrant workers
Xiao Hu, an HIV-positive migrant worker, starred in a public service film as a construction worker who is rejected by co-workers and friends because of his HIV status. The film is part of China’s first HIV prevention campaign for internal rural migrant workers launched jointly with the ILO. December 2008


ILO training keeps Fiji green and clean
Waste collectors in Fiji have reason to celebrate World Day for Safety and Health at Work (28 April), because of a new ILO programme which combines ‘green’ environmental support measures with occupational safety and health practices. They enjoy better, safer and greener working conditions. April 2011

Working in a ‘man’s world’: women in the Fiji police force
An interview with Kasanita Seruvatu, former Director of Training in the Fijian Police and now Training Advisor to the Samoa Police, who spearheaded initiatives in both countries to create a stronger ethnic and gender balance and empower women to take up challenging roles in the police forces. October 2008


Recognition for India’s invisible workers
Domestic workers play an important role in the economy, yet they remain invisible, unprotected and their contribution is often not recognized. Kuwari, from a poor family in Jharkhand, work as a domestic worker in Delhi. After receiving training by the Skills Development Initiative for Domestic Workers, her income as well as self- esteem were boosted. May 2011

Power for the powerless: the woman behind India’s ‘Gentle Revolution'
Nearly four decades ago Dr Ela Bhatt founded what has become India’s largest and most unusual trade union—the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA). With more than one million members who are informal economy workers, they have access to medical and child care, health and life insurance, start-up loans, and savings and pensions schemes. June 2009

A triumph of enterprise: Sitabai's story
Sitabai and her husband used to be labourers in a small village in Madhya Pradesh Province of central India and faced daily struggle for survival. Their lives improved significantly after she received training in tailoring from Srujan Mahila Vikas Association (SRUJAN). March 2010

India’s barefoot solar engineers fight climate change and poverty
Dipsika, a trained solar engineer, installs and maintains solar panels, batteries and lanterns in a village in Rajasthan, India. This new source of low-cost energy has totally altered the lives of the villagers. June 2009


Indigenous women break traditional barriers by becoming entrepreneurs
After being trained in the skills necessary to start a business, women in Jayawijay, Lani Jaya and Yahukomo regencies of Papua, Indonesia are finding new ways to lift themselves out of poverty. December 2010

Now, I can afford my children’s education
Yulia Walilo of Lani Jaya took part in the ILO’s Entrepreneurship Skills Development project and the Gender and Entrepreneurship Together (GET) Ahead programme and has now become a honey bee entrepreneur, enabling them to support the family and send their children to school. October 2010


Nepal stories
Three short, personal, stories of people who found new sources of income thanks to an ILO and Nepali Government project on Employment Creation, Peace Building and Local Economic Development. January 2010

Pacific Islands

Questions and answers on jobs recovery and the development of decent work for people in the Pacific Islands
Ms Sachiko Yamamoto, ILO Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific talks about the Port Vila Statement on Decent Work and the Pacific Action Plan for Decent Work, adopted in February 2010 at Port Vila, Vanuatu by representatives from Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Australia and New Zealand. January 2010

Papua New Guinea

The Pacific’s youth employment challenge
Genevieve is one of many young people in the Pacific looking for ways to get an education and a job. The ILO is spearheading the UN’s role in promoting training and employment, particularly for young people. August 2007


Pakistan’s devastating floods – rebuilding lives and livelihoods
Sher Hassan’s house in Peshawar, Pakistan was devastated by floods. With help from the ILO’s Cash for Work programme, he rebuilt his life with his elderly mother, five sisters and one younger brother. October 2010


The dreamweaver of Lake Sebu
Story of Subi Nalon, the seventy-five-year-old inherited the skill from her mother and has been weaving t'nalak since he was 15.

Philippines’ fight against hazardous child labour goes on-line
Rodel Morcozo, a former child labourer, now works for Senator Loren Legarda and is an advocate against child labour. The Philippines Department of Labor and Employment launched an internet site to report child labour cases or perpetrators find information/data and join discussions--the Child Labor Knowledge Sharing System: June 2011

Saving for the future, protecting migrant workers and their families
Filipino migrant workers are covered by insurance but coverage excludes their family. In response Pioneer Life created an Overseas Filipino Workers Savers and Wellness Club, offering microinsurance and savings products. July 2010

Climate change in Asia: while awareness is increasing, the water is rising
Gingging Poyo, a mother with a baby, works as maintenance staff at a lake resort in Jabonga, Philippines. But local businesses suffer due to heavy rains and typhoons, causing serious floods. The ILO set up a project to help them cope with changing weather patterns. October 2009

Girls in gold-mining: “I don’t want my children to be like me”
More than 18,000 girls and boys work in mining and quarrying in the Philippines. The Philippines Global March against Child Labour brings together government and non-government organizations, trade unions, teachers, families and others to fight child labour and get these children back to school. June 2009

Sri Lanka

Fish and fairs support economic development in Sri Lanka
Ornamental fish breeders of Polonnaruwa found their business potential being restricted by a lack of water. The ILO’s Enterprise for Pro-poor Growth project analysed their problems and helped improve their businesses. April 2009

Physical disability no barrier to young Sri Lankan entrepreneur
Puspakumara, a young entrepreneur, does not let his impaired mobility affect his successful electronics repair shop in Kegalle, Sri Lanka. April 2010


Avian and pandemic human influenza and the workplace
Outbreaks of cases of avian influenza have prompted worldwide concern of possible pandemic human influenza. In response, the ILO set up a pilot project looking at prevention strategies for workplaces in Thailand which served as a model for other countries. December 2008

The road to school is a route out of child labour
Mr Guy Thijs, Deputy Regional Director, ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and former Director of the ILO’s global International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour looks at how Thailand has successfully reduced child labour amongst Thai children, but instead there are migrant child labourers. June 2008


Young Timorese beautician is a cut above the rest
Eugenia de Jesus Cardoso now runs a successful beauty salon in her hometown, in Maliana, her hometown in Timore-Leste. She gained the business and specialist skills she needed during a training programme run by the Timore-Leste Government and the ILO’s Youth Employment Promotion (YEP) programme. July 2011

Peace, security and work in Timor-Leste
Following independence, Timor-Leste faces many social and economic challenges. To help the Timorese people find decent work, the ILO introduced a package of initiatives to promote employment, income generation and decent work. August 2007

Viet Nam

Ms Thanh gets a passport: skills training holds rural families, communities together
Story of Tran Thi Thanh, a 43-year-old grandmother in My Loc, who acquired her first-ever passport and will use it to find work in Taiwan as a domestic workers. October 2011

Consumer power makes an impact: Viet Nam’s garment workers benefit from pressure on standards
Story of Dang Thu Hoan, a Vietnamese worker who helps produce around US$13 billion in textile export revenues for Viet Nam. October 2011

Vietnamese apparel factories producing a good bargain for all
A success story from an Australian Government – ILO Partnership Agreement project. November 2011

Helping women and men with disabilities fulfill their potential
Vo Thi Hoang Yen, a young Vietnamese lady with polio, works to promote the rights of people with disabilities. She has received international recognition for her efforts. November 2009

Asia-Pacific, themes, opinion editorials and Questions & Answers

The role of employment in crisis recovery
Emergency relief aid is the priority in the immediate aftermath of a catastrophe, but recovering jobs and livelihoods are an important part of reconstruction. Through labour-intensive infrastructure rehabilitation projects and other kinds of job creation, the ILO helps disaster victims rebuild their lives. September 2011

Towards a greener and fairer society
Climate change means that resource scarcity and environmental degradation have become major, and urgent, challenges. In response, the ILO is promoting the concept of green jobs as a driving force towards a greener and fairer development path that can support economic and social development at a sustainable level. November 2011

Public-private partnerships in Asia Pacific – the best of two systems
Public-private partnerships are gaining increasing traction in international development cooperation and are being used more and more by the ILO. August 2011

Forging stronger partnerships for decent work in Asia-Pacific
Assisted in part by the region’s faster recovery from the global economic crisis, Asia and the Pacific is seeing an increase in the number of middle-income countries. March 2011

Youth unemployment a challenge in Asia and the Pacific
Young Asian women and men are increasingly finding it difficult to get jobs. This article looks at the situation in Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. August 2010

Decent Work for domestic workers: a long way to go
Domestic work is considered one of the most precarious of occupations. At the 2009 annual International Labour Conference in Geneva, delegates from Governments, Workers’ and Employers’ Organizations decided domestic workers should receive better protection by beginning the process of developing a legal instrument, i.e. Convention and Recommendation on Domestic Work. June 2009

The economic crisis in Asia: It’s about real people, real jobs
When the financial crisis predictably turned into a jobs crisis, the Asia and the Pacific region found itself facing mass unemployment. As many as 100 million people in Asia could be unemployed in 2009, according to ILO estimates. June 2009

The ILO - 90 years of hope
Opinion Editorial by Sachiko Yamamoto, ILO Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific on the occasion of the ILO’s 90th anniversary. April 2009